Dorothy Tennant was born in London and studied painting under Edward Poynter at the Slade School of Fine Art. She travelled to Paris where she continued her education with painter Jean-Jacques Henner. Tennant worked as a painter and illustrator, and a key subject in her work was children and families, particularly those living in poverty. In 1890 she married explorer Sir Henry Morton Stanley and became known as Lady Stanley. She edited her husband's biography, and wrote and illustrated several books including London Street Arabs.