Helen Allingham RWS was an English watercolourist and illustrator of the Victorian era.
Helen Mary Elizabeth Paterson was born on 26 September 1848, at Swadlincote in Derbyshire, the daughter of Alexander Henry Paterson, a medical doctor, and Mary Herford Paterson. Helen Paterson was the eldest of seven children. The family moved to Altrincham in Cheshire when she was one year old. In 1862 her father and her three-year-old sister Isabel died of diphtheria during an epidemic. The family then moved to Birmingham, where some of Alexander Paterson's family lived.
Paterson showed a talent for art from an early age, drawing some of her inspiration from her maternal grandmother Sarah Smith Herford and aunt Laura Herford, both accomplished artists of their day. Her younger sister Caroline Paterson also became a noted artist. She initially studied art for three years at the Birmingham School of Design. She spent a year at the Royal Female School of Art in London, before following her aunt Laura Herford to the National Art Training School, one of the Royal Academy Schools, which would later become the Royal College of Art.