Samuel Pepys was born in London on 23 February 1633, the fifth of eleven children, although by the time he was seven only three of his siblings, all younger, had survived. He was sent to grammar school at Huntingdon during the English Civil War (1642-1651), returning later to London and attending St Paul's School. Following this he went to Cambridge where he attended Trinity Hall and then Magdalene colleges. Not long after taking his degree in 1654 he was employed as secretary in London by Edward Mountagu, a distant relative who was now a Councillor of State.
In 1655 Pepys married Elizabeth St Michel and at some point after 1656, while still attached to Mountagu's service, Pepys became clerk to George Downing, a Teller of the Receipt in the Exchequer. However, he and his wife separated for a while (for unknown reasons) and in 1658 he had a bladder stone removed in a dangerous operation. Later the same year Pepys and his wife moved from a single room in Mountagu's lodgings to Axe Yard near the palace of Westminster, where he was living when starting the diary in 1660.
Pepys was a practical man of business but also had a wide-ranging appetite for knowledge. His classical and mathematical education was the basis from which he explored the arts and sciences and he was an accomplished musician.