Born in Paris in 1928 into a family of Polish refugees, Dora Holzhandler was later sent to live with a foster family on a farm in Normandy. She returned to her Jewish family when she was 5 before the family moved to London in 1934. Though she endured the War in England, much of her extended family perished at Auschwitz. In 1948, she attended the Anglo-French Art School in St. John’s Wood.
Her childhood memories and Jewish roots permeate her work, as do her Buddhist beliefs, and she claims that “now, as a Buddhist, I can really enjoy being Jewish.” Holzhandler’s innocent art has many fans, including Irish writer Edna O’Brien, television art historian Sister Wendy Beckett and comedian Jack Dee amongst others.