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George Dannatt was born to Sr. George Herbert Dannatt and Jane Ellen Wood in 1915. His family home was located in Blackheath and his ancestors are said to have been sailmakers and chandlers. He had a younger brother, Trevor, who eventually went on to become an architect. His father, who was an enthusiastic hobby photographer, appears to have helped develop his interest in art.

George completed his education at Colfe's Grammar School and enjoyed working on making model ships during his spare time. However, he developed a keen interest in music when he was 15 years and started taking piano lessons to develop his skills. He attended the London University College of Estate Management starting from 1935 and qualified as a fellow before joining his father’s firm in 1940.

In the same year, he was called up to be enrolled in the Army and served as part of Royal Artillery. He served from 1940 to 1944 with the Royal Artillery division before being invalided out. After his stint with Army, George resumed his career with his family business and started moonlighting as a music critic. He married Ann Doncaster in 1943 and they remained married until his demise on November 7th 2009.