Valerie Thornton RE, painter and printmaker, was born in London on April 13, 1931. She began her schooling at Elinor Birley’s Primary School in 1936 but, during the World War II, she and her brothers were evacuated to Montreal where she attended the Montreal Girl’s High School. In 1944, she returned to London where her art studies began in 1949 at the Byam Shaw School of Drawing and Painting. She attended the Regent Street Polytechnic where she studied under P.F. Millard between 1950 and 1953. The following year Thornton spent eight months at Stanley William Hayter’s Atelier 17 in Paris. In the early 1960s she lived in New York working for ten months at Pratt Graphics Art Center.
In the mid 1950s Thornton's work was included in the exhibition of the Regent Street Group at the Walkers Galleries on Bond Street. She was a member of the Philadelphia Print Club and a founding member of the Printmakers Council. In 1970, she was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Painters-Etchers and Engravers.
Thornton’s work has been included in many exhibitions and a retrospective was mounted in 1974. Her work is represented in the collections of the Royal Academy, Victoria and Albert Museum, British Museum, Tate Gallery, Fitzwilliam Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, New York Public Library, Bibliothèque nationale de France and the Albertina Museum. Valerie Thornton died in 1991 in Chelsworth, Suffolk.