Bruce Robinson was born in London. He grew up in Broadstairs, Kent, where he attended the Charles Dickens Secondary Modern School. His parents were Mabel Robinson and American lawyer Carl Casriel, who had a short-term relationship during World War II. His father was a Lithuanian Jew. As a child, Robinson was constantly brutally abused by his stepfather Rob (an ex RAF navigator and a wholesale newsagent), who knew the boy wasn't his son. He had an elder sister Elly, whom he asked to teach him some French.