Elspeth Phyllis Vaughan (later Elspeth Hope-Johnstone) was born in Hobart in 1926. Along with her two sisters, she attended The Friends School. She trained and worked as a kindergarten teacher in Melbourne. Upon her return to Tasmania she taught at the Augusta Road Kindergarten and at Lady Gowrie in Battery Point, where she was director for several years. In 1953 she was appointed Supervisor of Pre-School Education in the Tasmanian Education Department. She also lectured in Early Childhood Education at the former Tasmanian College of Advanced Education. In 1976 she was made a fellow of the Australian College of Education. Elspeth painted from an early age, painting in her school years in watercolours with Friends School Headmaster Ernest Unwin. She undertook both formal and informal art training, with tuition from Jack Carington-Smith at the Hobart Art School and several study trips overseas. She exhibited regularly from 1968. Elspeth was a core member of the 'Sunday Painters' group of Tasmanian watercolour artists active in the mid-twentieth century. She married Ralph Hope-Johnstone in 1976 and together they spent time overseas travelling and painting. Elspeth was awarded membership of the Order of Australia for services to art, education and public broadcasting. She is a life member of The Art Society of Tasmania.