Helen E. Hokinson was born in Mendota, Illinois, the daughter of a farm machinery salesman and his wife. She studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago (now the School of the Art Institute of Chicago) and went to work as a freelance artist drawing fashion illustrations for department stores such as Marshall Fields. In 1920, she moved to New York City to study at the Parsons School of Design and continue doing fashion illustrations. She began submitting humorous drawings to magazines, and on July 4, 1925, was one of the first cartoonists to appear in the first issue of the new magazine The New Yorker. She was then asked to continue sending drawings each week, and her work became a regular fixture in the magazine -- it's estimated that 1,700 of her cartoons were printed. Miss Hokinson relied on The New Yorker's staff writers to provide captions for her cartoons, a common practice that era, until she entered into a business partnership with writer James Reid Parker in 1931. With Parker, she also provided a monthly cartoon for Ladies' Home Journal as well as cartoons for advertising campaigns. She published several collections of her cartoons in book form: So You're Going to Buy a Book (1931), My Best Girls (1941), and When Were You Built? (1948). After her death, her estate published The Ladies, God Bless Them (1950), There Are Ladies Present (1952), and The Hokinson Festival (1956).