Knightley was born in Teddington, London, England, the daughter of Sharman MacDonald, an award-winning playwright, and Will Knightley, a theatre and television actor. Her father is English and her Scottish-born mother is of half Welsh ancestry. She has an elder brother, Caleb. Knightley lived in Richmond, attending Stanley Junior School, Teddington School and Esher College. She is dyslexic, but nevertheless was successful in school and was thus permitted to acquire a talent agent and pursue an acting career. She requested an agent as early as the age of three and got one when she turned six, from her mother as a reward for studying hard.Knightley has noted that she was "single-minded about acting" during her childhood. She performed in a number of local amateur productions, including After Juliet (written by her mother) and United States (written by her then drama teacher, Ian McShane).