Carrington was born in Clayton Green, South Lancaster, Lancashire, England. Her father was a wealthy industrialist, her mother was Irish. She also had an Irish nanny, Mary Cavanaugh, who told her Gaelic tales. Leonora had three brothers. Places she lived as a child included a house called Crooksey Hall. Educated by governesses, tutors and nuns, she was expelled from two schools for her rebellious behaviour until her family sent her to Florence where she attended Mrs. Penrose's Academy of Art. Her father was opposed to an artist's career for her, but her mother encouraged her. She returned to England and was presented at Court, but according to her, she brought a book to read by Aldous Huxley Eyeless in Gaza (1936), instead. In London she attended the Chelsea School of Art and joined the Academy of Amédée Ozenfant.