John Austen was born in Kent. He trained originally as a carpenter before moving to London in 1906 to study art. He returned to Kent in the 1920s, and taught at Thanet School of Art. He exhibited works at the St George’s Gallery, London, but is best known as a book illustrator. His early works in pen and ink were reminiscent of Aubrey Beardsley. Austen later turned to wood engraving for the illustrations to Cooper’s Poets in Pinafores, 1931, published by Alston Rivers.