John Atkinson Grimshaw was born in Leeds in 1836. His father was a policeman but in 1848 he found work with the Great Northern Railway Company. Grimshaw's parents were strict Baptists and his
mother strongly disapproved of his interest in painting and on one occasion she destroyed all his paints.
In 1852 Grimshaw became a clerk at the Great Northern Railway office in Leeds. The city had several art galleries
and Grimshaw was able to see the work of Holman Hunt (The Light of the World), Henry Wallis (Death of Chatterton) and William Powell Frith (Derby Day).
Grimshaw decided to become a full-time painter and in 1861 he left
his job with the Great Northern Railway. Grimshaw's paintings were sold in two art galleries, smaller picture dealers and a couple of bookshops in Leeds. One of his main customers was Thomas Fenteman, who owned an
antiquarian booksellers. Fenteman was a deeply religious man and would only buy the pictures after Grimshaw had confirmed that they had not been painted on a Sunday.