Edward James was born in 1907 at his family’s summer house, Greywalls, in Gullane, near North Berwick in Scotland. His family was immensely wealthy and owned a vast estate at West Dean in West Sussex. Edward came into his inheritance in his twenties and used much of it to support the arts: he is best known as the patron of Salvador Dalí and René Magritte but also wrote and published poetry. He met Salvador Dalí in 1934, and had a contract with him from 1937-38, to acquire all his paintings. From the late 1940s James spent much of his time and money building an extraordinary set of surrealist buildings and waterfalls in Xilitla, in the rainforests of Mexico. He established the Edward James Foundation, at his property at West Dean, to teach and keep crafts traditions alive. He considered himself a patron rather than a collector, and sold off many Surrealist artworks to fund his Foundation and the building in Mexico .