She was born Helen Paterson, the eldest of seven children to a doctor from the village of Swadlincote in Derbyshire.
As a young girl she displayed a talent for drawing that was encouraged by her parents who permitted her to attend Art College both in Birmingham and London where she trained as an illustrator, later working for a number of periodicals.
In 1874, she married the Irish poet and magazine editor William Allingham and in doing so chose to abandon her career as an illustrator and concentrate on painting instead.
And it was as a painter of watercolours that her popularity soared.
Working mostly in Surrey and Sussex the beauty of her brush and soft focus imagery of village life depicted a timeless rural idyll that appealed to the sentimentality of the Victorian living under the lash of the clock and in a landscape scared by the forge, the mill, and the slag heap.
With their nostalgic themes and the warm embrace of familiarity her paintings struck a chord with the British people who took them to their hearts and by Edwardian times it seemed there were few things whether it be a postcard, a perfume bottle, or a jigsaw puzzle that did not carry an image by Helen Allingham, or one of her many imitators.
Indeed, such was her ubiquity that she has since been referred to disparagingly as the ‘chocolate box artist’ which is to do a great disservice to one of the finest painters of her generation in the genre in which she chose to express herself: