Pamela Colman Smith was born in England to American parents. Her childhood years were spent between London, New York and Kingston, Jamaica. She became a theatrical designer, even collaborating with the notable W.B. Yeats on stage designs. She was an illustrator mainly of books, pamphlets and posters too.
Under the guidance of A. E. Waite, she undertook a series of seventy-eight allegorical paintings described by Waite as a 'rectified' tarot pack. The designs, published in the same year by William Rider and Son, exemplify the mysticism, ritual, imagination, fantasy and deep emotions of the artist.