Edward Bawden was born in Braintree, Essex. He studied at Cambridge School of Art and at the Royal College of Art where he was taught by the artist Paul Nash. He was a great friend of Eric Ravilious and together they painted murals, Bawden admiring Ravilious' elegance and fastidious taste, Ravilious admiring the professionalism with which Bawden worked on every job: book illustrations, lino-cuts and the quirky, wryly humorous drawing he produced all his life. Though never really a Surrealist, Bawden had a love of fantasy that often made his compositions oddly out of sync with the world, as he himself put it "fantasy is a serious matter". He was appointed an Official War Artist and was posted to France to record the retreat from Dunkirk and later travelled throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East. After the war he practised as a designer covering everything from menu-cards to shipboard interiors.