Catherine Stock was born in Sweden where her father was a diplomat stationed in Stockholm. He was soon transferred to Paris and Stock began school when she was four. She already spoke fluent french. A few years after that, the family moved to Cape Town, South Africa, and after four years in South Africa, they moved to New Orleans. Stock and her family lived in America for eight years; six years in New Orleans, and 2 in San Francisco Stock graduated from high school in June 1970. She was to attend the University of Cape Town the next year, but classes only started in March, so she chose to backpack across Europe in the intervening eight months. Stock started in Paris, went north to visit friends and relatives in Sweden and Norway and then slowly made her way down to Italy and Greece. She ended up working as a volunteer on a kibbutz in Israel once her money ran out. During school, Stock endured the years of apartheid and spent one summer in Zululand, working at a hospital in Nqutu. After four years at art school, she got a job on the Cape Flats, teaching art and art history at a teacher's training college. She then decided to get her teaching certificate in London. Stock couldn't control the tough young kids in London's East End at all, and later, the older students at the Loughton College of Further Education were so bored and unmotivated, that teaching suddenly became a matter of either discipline or entertainment. Stock's parents were in New York by this time, so she arrived in town for a visit. She had no money, but her mother commissioned her to paint the family portraits. Because Stock's parents entertained a lot, word got around about her portraits and soon she was able to finance a post graduate degree in design at Pratt. Through Pratt, she got her first job in publishing, as an art director. After four years in New York at various publishing houses, including Putnam, Coward McCann, Atheneum and Clarion, Stock went back to Cape Town, but three years later returned to New York. She did not go back to publishing, but instead chose to do freelance work and write her own children's books.