Cicely Mary Barker was born in 1895 in Croydon, South London, and spent most of her life there. Because of ill-health she was educated at home and largely taught herself to draw and paint, encouraged by a supportive family and assisted by membership of the Croydon Art Society. She was only sixteen when she had her first work accepted for publication as a set of postcards, and from that time she devoted her career to painting. It was her Flower Fairies books that brought Cicely Mary Barker her greatest popular acclaim. Like the Pre-Raphaelite painters whom she so much admired, she believed in recreating the beauty of nature in art and in drawing from life. Her plants and flowers were observed with complete botanical accuracy and in the fairies themselves she captured perfectly the unselfconscious grace of children, whom she used to sketch in her sister's school.