Honor C. Appleton, or Honor Charlotte Appleton in full, was born to parents Georgina and John Hoblyn Appleton, in Brighton on the south coast of England, on 4th February 1879. Appleton grew up with two older sisters, Rachel and Alice Mary (nicknamed 'Sissy') and one younger brother named John. Although not a great deal is known about her early childhood, it seems that her mother, Georgina, encouraged Honor and her sisters to take up the creative arts and painting.
Appleton was a student at various art schools. Firstly she attended South Kensington School, after which, on scholarship, she attended Frank Calderdon's School of Animal Painting. After a short time at the Studio of Sir Arthur Cope, RA, in January 1901 she and her sister Sissy registered at the Royal Academy School. It appears that Appleton loved learning and made good use of the opportunities afforded to her to develop her skills in different mediums, including sketching and watercolours. Many of her sketchbooks and original watercolours still survive, in which the development and progression of her work can be seen.