Elsie Mable Whitford (1897-1994) was born and brought up in Birmingham and entered the Birmingham School of Art in 1915. At the School she met her long-time collaborator, Nora Yoxall, in a book illustration class, which they had considered making their specialism. However, the experience of working on the Church of St Peter, Handsworth, while at the School, appears to have fired an interest in stained glass.
The stained glass of the partnership can be divided into pre- and post-war work. In the pre-war period their work was characterised by windows with coloured backgrounds for a number of Methodist Churches, while post-war their windows are characterised by having the images set in plain glass. A move away from the style of earlier Birmingham School of Art artists, who generally used painted quarries in the background. In addition to stained glass, Whitford and Yoxall also produced a body of work in watercolours, oils and pen and ink and continued working into the mid-1970s.