Mary Ellen Best was born in York, October 1809 to Dr Charles Best, a prominent Yorkshire physician, and Mary Norcliffe Dalton daughter or a Yorkshire landowner.
Dr. Best died when Mary Ellen was only eight, leaving her to be raised by her mother, who never remarried, and her two sisters. Inheritance from her meant that a good education was affordable and that she would not have to work for a living or marry for financial reasons, leaving adequate time to study painting both at Mrs. Haugh's school in Doncaster and later Miss Shepherd's school in Bromley.
In 1828, Best returned to Yorkshire to embark on a career as a painter. Artwork dating from this period when Best was s
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