Celia was the middle child of three, from a very English middle class family. Both parents were respected, prosperous, and well educated. Celia's mother was Ethel Griffiths, and her family was god-fearing and sporty. Ethel and her siblings seem to have been a nervous lot. Two died very young, which was traditional in those days, and three of her sisters lived together unmarried for the rest of their lives. Ethel was sent to live with her aunt and uncle as a replacement for their dead child, and she became the rebel who left the family and moved from her native Lancashire and in 1904 married Robert Johnson, a doctor from Cambridge/Essex. The Johnsons were an arty, clever and relaxed lot. Robert wrote sketches in verse, and qualified as a doctor while working to pay for his training. He was an early enthusiast of motoring.
From the Johnsons, Celia inherited a round face, big eyes, creativity and a sense of fun. From the Griffiths she got a tall athletic body, a sense of duty, thrift, stoicism, and some northern grit.