Madame Yevonde was born into a well-to-do family in January, 1893. Her father, a manufacturer of printing inks, was loving and kind, and took delight in initiating his daughter into the fascinating world of colour. As she grew up, she developed a very strong independent streak, and a determination to make her own way in the world. She had no intention of living out her young days in a succession of dances and theatre parties until a suitable husband could be found for her.

While still in her 'teens, she discovered the Suffragette Movement and devoted much of her spare time to promoting its aims. She was to remain a staunch supporter of women's rights throughout her life, and they became a strong motivating force in her career, driving her later on to explore many aspects of women's sexuality and their role in society in her work.

Her choice of profession was purely a matter of chance. She answered an advertisement for an assistant to a well - known photographer and was interviewed for the job, but although she did not take it on account of the amount of travel involved in getting to and from work, she now knew exactly what she wanted to do with the rest of her life. She apprenticed herself to Lallie Charles, the leading society portrait photographer of the day, from whom she learned the rudiments of her chosen profession, and how to run a studio. In 1914, before her apprenticeship was even completed, she set up her own studio with money provided by her ever-indulgent father and, using one of her own Christian names, announced that 'Madame Yevonde - Portrait Photographer' was open for business. She was just 21 years old.