Born in Newcastle, the daughter of Alister and Ada Alison, she was brought up in Harrogate and educated at Wycombe Abbey in Bedfordshire.

Ruth studied at the FORBES SCHOOL of Painting, Newlyn (1911-12) and married Charles Walter SIMPSON in 1913. The couple were to live a peripatetic life, living at Polwin House, Newlyn 1913-14 (where their daughter Leonora was born), Carbis Bay (1914-16), Lamorna (1916-18), St Ives (1918-24), London (1924-1931), Lamorna again (1931-45) and Penzance (1946-64).

Ruth's great interest was portrait painting, and she painted several portraits of her fellow women artists, including Ella Louise NAPER and Gertrude HARVEY. Her portrait of artist Frank VER BECK of St Ives is in the collection of the RCM, Truro. She died in Redruth, and is buried at Paul Cemetery.


Painter, teacher

works and access

Likenesses of the Artist: Orange and Green, Self Portrait (1920); Portrait (private collection); photographs in WCAA archives.

Works include: Sophie (a young woman cleaning a copper coal scuttle) (1913); The Milk Maid; Maroon and Gold (1920); A Study in Yellow (1920); Lady in Black (1920); Lustre Jar (1920); Portrait of a wife of a well-known St Ives man (1920); The Amber Necklace (1923); portraits of Mr Crosbie Garstin and Mr Frank Verbeck (c1923)

Archival Deposits: Her letters and Diary, along with family papers, letters and diaries, are in the WCAA

Access to Work: Penlee House, Penzance; RCM (Truro)


St Ives September 1919; Lanham's Show Day March 1920; March 1920, works for London Galleries; RA Spring Exhibition April 1920, May1920, Portraits March 1923; Harris & Sons Galleries, Plymouth June 1920; International Society; SWA (4)

NAG Painting in Newlyn 1900-1930

1996:  Women Artists; Falmouth Art Gallery (Group)

2002:  Women Painters, Penlee House, Penzance (Group)

2010: 'Sea Change' Exhibition, Penlee House, Penzance


St Ives Times 5 Sep 1919, 5 Mar 1920, 19 Mar 1920, 16 Apr 1920 [from WMN], 14 May 1920, 28 May 1920 [from Daily Mercury 14 May 1920], 18 Jun 1920, 23 Mar 1923

J Branfield, in Hardie 2009 pp109-112, illustrated essay on the Simpson couple

Fox & Greenacre

Hardie (2009) Artists/ Newlyn and West Cornwall (p269); 

Hoyle, H (Sept 2010 Women Artists in Cornwall 'An Historical Perspective' &  review of 'Sea Change' exhibition, Penlee House

Newton et al Painting at the Edge

Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly: Oil Paintings in Public Ownership

Tovey (2010) Sea Change

Tovey (2022) Lamorna - An Artistic, Social and Literary History - Volumes I & II, Wilson Books

Wallace et al Women Artists in Cornwall

 WCAA (family papers, letters and diaries)

Whybrow (1994) St Ives;