Dame Eileen Rosemary Mayo, DBE, RA (1906-1994) was a versatile artist; she was a print marker, painter, illustrator, writer, designer and calligrapher who worked in almost every medium. Mayo was born in Norwich and later graduated from the Slade School in London. In 1927, she discovered linocut and produced many works using this technique. Much of Mayo’s work reflected her love of nature and many of her drawings were later turned into prints, such as Cat in a Cherry Tree. Many of her illustrations of cats appeared in the book, Best Cat Stories.
In 1936, she married Dr. Richard Gainsborough, but the marriage ended in 1952. Shortly thereafter, Mayo emigrated to Australia where she contributed to the post-war print boom and taught at the National Art School in Sydney. While in Australia, she designed stamps commemorating the flora and fauna of the nation depicting the duck billed Platypus, tiger cat and the Tasmanian tiger among other animals and plants. Mayo was the first woman to have designed such a series. In 1962, she moved to New Zealand to join her mother and sister who had been living there since 1921. She remained there until her death in 1994, and received the honor of being named Dame of the British Empire just days before.
Dame Eileen Mayo created color prints and woodcuts of cats as well.