Helen Saunders was born in Bedford Park, Ealing, London. She studied at the Slade School of Art from 1906 to 1907, and later at the Central School of Arts and Crafts. She exhibited in the Twentieth Century Art exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1914, one of the first British artists to point in a nonfigurative style. In 1915 she became associated with the Vorticists, signing their manifesto in the first edition of the literary magazine BLAST and contributing to their inaugural exhibition. She and Jessica Dismorr were the only female members.
She exhibited with the London Group in 1916, but from 1920 she increasingly turned away from the avant-garde and adopted a more realist style, working in still life, landscapes and portraiture, and latterly exhibiting with the Holborn Art Society.
- "Since Saunders' early work earned her a respected place in experimental circles, the gathering obscurity of her later years seems cruel. She endured the neglect with uncomplaining stoicism, for her innate warmth prevented her from succumbing to bitterness."
Peppin discovered a great deal of previously unknown information about Saunders' life and work. Despite her long career, however, fewer than 200 of her works are currently known. She was included in the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University held an exhibition entitled The Vorticists: Rebel Artists in London and New York, 1914-18 from 30 September 2010 through 2 January 2011.
- Richard Cork, "Vorticists (act. 1914–1919)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 2 July 2007
- Helen Saunders, Tate Gallery biography
- Peppin, Brigid. Helen Saunders 1885-1963, Ashmolean Museum Oxford, 1996