Barbara Cooney was born in Brooklyn, New York. Her father was a stockbroker and her mother was an artist who encouraged Barbara's talent for art. She attended private schools and graduated from Smith College before briefly attending art school in New York. A year later, she got her first commission: the illustrations for Ake and His World (1940) by Bertil Malmberg. During World War II, Barbara served in the Women’s Army Corps and married Guy Murchie in 1944. They had two children. The couple later divorced and Barbara remarried in 1949 to Charles T. Porter, a physician, with whom she had two children. In the course of her long career, Barbara Cooney illustrated more than 100 books. After receiving her second Caldecott award, she began to write books as well. In her final years, she lived in a house in Maine overlooking the sea.