Toni Maclean was brought up on a remote coastal farm in the west highlands of Scotland, without any road access or mains electricity. She had no formal education till she was nine, then she went to a convent school in Perthshire and later studied social work at Dundee university. She married a fisherman and had four sons and when they left home she took up art and writing poetry, also travelling to broaden her experience. She also continued to work with the mentally ill. She moved to Fife in 2016 and died two years later from a brain tumour. She was a devout Christian.