Edmund Morison Wimperis began his career as a wood engraver, working for the Illustrated London News and executing illustrations for novels by George Eliot (1819-1880) and Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855). He studied under Myles Birket Foster (1825-1899), and focused on landscapes, many of which were painted en plein air. Wimperis was elected to the New Society of Painters in Water-colour in 1875 and, after the Society had changed its name in 1881 to the Royal Institute of Painters in Water-colour, he became Vice-President in 1895.
The river Tavy rises high up on the northern fen at an altitude of 1,841 feet. The infant river trickles out of the peat at South Tavy Head and then makes its way down over the moorland, flowing past Tavistock, to the sea. On the river's journey it tumbles down through a steep gorge, called 'The Cleave'. The wildness and ruggedness of this deep, granite-lined valley has for centuries drawn artists, poets and authors. Wimperis was among the many artists who looked to Tavy Cleave for the inspiration that is evoked by awesome, natural beauty.