Early life and education
Vanessa Stephen was the elder daughter of Sir Leslie Stephen and Julia Prinsep Duckworth. The family, including her sister Virginia, brothers Thoby (1880–1906) and Adrian (1883–1948), and half-brothers George and Gerald Duckworth, lived at 22 Hyde Park Gate, Westminster, London. She was educated at home in languages, mathematics and history, and took drawing lessons from Ebenezer Cook before she attended Sir Arthur Cope's art school in 1896. She then studied painting at the Royal Academy in 1901.
Later in life, she alleged that during her childhood she had been sexually molested by her half-brothers, George and Gerald Duckworth.