Helen Riddiford (nee Whittington) was born in Christchurch and attended St Mary’s College in Wellington. She taught at primary schools in Wellington after graduating from Wellington Teachers’ Training College. Her B.A. in English Literature at Victoria University was completed while she raised her four children from her first marriage to Dunbar Sloane. She married Hugh Riddiford, the step-great-great-great-grandson of Evans, in 1994 and lives in Auckland.