Charlotte Canning, née Stuart, was born in Paris, a daughter of the British Ambassador to France, Charles Stuart, later Baron Stuart de Rothsay, and his wife Elizabeth. She served as a Lady of the Bedchamber to the young Queen Victoria. In 1835, she married Charles Canning, later 1st Earl Canning, and accompanied him to India when he was appointed Governor-General in 1856. She kept a journal and wrote frequent lively letters to Queen Victoria about the events and people there.
She also was a keen amateur photographer and painter, and produced some 350 watercolors during her time in India. She died there of malaria in 1861 at age 44.