The sixth child of butcher Augustus Atwell, Mabel was born in Mile End, London in 1879. Attwell’s artistic career began at Saint Martin’s School of Art. She favoured imaginary subjects and had a dislike for classical subjects and life drawing in general. She began her career as a magazine illustrator with commissions from Tatler magazine and Bystander, and went on to illustrate the classics such as Alice in Wonderland, The Water Babies and Peter Pan.
Following the successful sales of china decorated with designs by Hilda Cowham, Attwell was commissioned by Shelley Potteries in 1926 to produce designs for children’s china ware. These ‘truly irresistible range of nursery ware’ (Pottery Gazette) continued to gain acclaim throughout Attwell’s career. Attwell was soon well known and loved by society and continued to bring pleasure through her charming designs.