Edward Hicks was born in 1780 in Bucks County,
Pennsylvania. After his mother died when he was an infant, Hicks was sent to live with family friends, the Twinings, who raised him with their four daughters in a Quaker household.
Hicks joined the Quakers, or the Society of Friends, in his youth and devoted much of his life to
the ministry. He was believed to have a special gift in his ability to share the "light" or "inner light" -- sharing aloud messages from the Lord acquired in moments of silent
spiritual contemplation. He was a popular and prominent Quaker minister, traveling to Friends meetings from Canada to Virginia. Edward Hicks was closely associated with his cousin, Elias Hicks, a
famous Quaker leader who led his "Hicksite" sect in a breakaway from the mainstream Quaker movement in 1827. This division resulted in a bitter animosity between the two factions that was not
resolved until 1955.
In addition to his religious notoriety, Hicks earned a considerable reputation in his community as
a painter. This career began in his youth, when he was apprenticed to a coachbuilder in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, where Hicks developed his talent for decorative painting. He
eventually established a successful ornamental painting business, decorating objects such as the aforementioned coaches, signboards, furniture, and household objects. Hicks's business was so
successful that he subsequently took apprentices, among them his cousin Thomas Hicks, and noted 19th-century American landscape painter Martin Johnson Heade.