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Helen Allingham R.W.S. (1848-1926) (née Paterson) studied at the Birmingham School of Design and from 1867 at the Royal Academy Schools in London. In 1870 Helen was hired as one of the founding staff members – and only woman – on The Graphic, one of a new breed of large-scale, high quality illustrated weekly magazines. In 1872 Allingham decided to leave her studies and to concentrate on her commission work which included illustrations for Thomas Harding’s new novel, Far From the Madding Crowd,and for a series of girl’s novels by Juliana Ewing. Allingham later enrolled into the Slade school where she met Kate Greenaway who was to become a life long friend.
In 1874 two of her watercolour paintings, The Milkmaid and Wait For Me, were accepted for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and sold during the exhibition. With the sponsorship of the eminent watercolourist Alfred Hunt she achieved the rare honor of associate status in the Royal Watercolour Society in 1875, and later became the first woman to be admitted to full membership.