Born in Sussex, Eardley moved to Glasgow at the outbreak of war. She studied at Glasgow School of Art and at Hospitalfield House under James Cowie. Cowie helped to shape her preference for everyday subjects. In 1949 Eardley rented a studio in the centre of Glasgow, and a few years later moved to Townhead, where the local street children were her preferred subjects. She bought a cottage in the small fishing village of Catterline, south of Aberdeen, in 1954. There, her favourite subjects were the village and sea, particularly in stormy weather. Eardley died of cancer in August 1963. Her ashes were scattered on the beach at Catterline.