Irene Wellington (neé Bass) was born in Lydd, Kent. She attended Maidstone School of Art from 1921 to 1925 and the Royal College of Art from 1925 to 1930. At the RCA she was not only the pupil of the calligrapher Edward Johnston but also his class assistant in 1927/8. On graduating, she moved to Edinburgh where she was a part-time teacher of writing and illuminating at the College of Art from 1932 to 1943. Returning to London in 1943, she taught consistently at the Central School of Arts and Crafts (1947-59) and briefly at the Royal College of Art (1945-7). At this time, and in the Johnston tradition, her talents flourished and she carried out new personal, illustrated work alongside important commissions; the latter include the Accession and Coronation addresses for HM Queen Elizabeth II.
In 1944 she had married the painter Hubert Wellington (her second husband) with whom she shared a home and studio in Henley-on-Thames until his death in 1967. She subsequently lived in London, where she continued working until c.1973, then moved to Steep, Hampshire and finally back to her birthplace, Lydd.