Eric Knight was the first to write about Lassie in his book, Lassie Come-Home. Knight was born on April 10, 1897 in Yorkshire, England. His mother married an American the second time around and the family moved to the United States, where Eric joined them when he was fifteen. He graduated from the Cambridge School of Latin in Massachusetts and the New York National Academy of Design. Knight wrote newspaper articles, starting as a copy boy for the Syndicate Bureau. He was a film critic for the Philadelphia Public Ledger and also wrote films, working with Frank Capra. And yet, Eric Knight wanted to write the Great American Novel.
When Knight and his wife moved to California, they got a collie puppy which they named Toots. Eric Knight fell in love with the dog, who showed all the intelligence and devotion for which collies are famous. He also made a visit to his beloved Yorkshire, witnessing the effects of the Great Depression on families there. He was prompted to write a short story, “Lassie Come-Home,” which was first published in the Saturday Evening Post on December 17, 1938. He also wrote a series of novels, including This Above All, which was on its way to being a bestseller when Knight was killed during World War II, in 1943, when he crashed aboard a troop transport in the Dutch Guiana jungle. He never lived to see the tremendous success his story about Lassie would have, first on film and then on television.