Harrow- and Cambridge-educated Cecil Beaton (born in London on 14 January 1904) made his name as a photographer of theatrical, royal and society luminaries. Beaton set up his own studio, and one of his earliest clients (and later best friends) was Stephen Tennant. Beaton's photographs of Tennant and his circle are considered some of the best representations of the Bright Young People of the twenties and thirties.

Beaton began designing for the stage in 1935 and for films in 1941, winning Oscars for the flowing elegance of his costume design for Gigi and My Fair Lady and his art direction on the latter. His films were almost invariably set in high society - or in the demi-monde at least. Beaton worked as a staff photographer for Vanity Fair and Vogue in addition to photographing celebrities in Hollywood. Furthermore, he was honored as the official photographer to the Royal Family.

During the Second World War, Cecil Beaton worked for the British Ministry of Information as a documentary photographer. He was made a CBE in 1957 and knighted in 1972. Famous for his portraits and idolatry of Greta Garbo, he was the author of seven volumes of autobiography and the subject of several biographies.