Born in 1912, Poppet was the second daughter of Augustus and Dorelia John. Originally named Elizabeth Ann or Lizzie, she was nicknamed Poppet when Caspar, one of her half-brothers, gazing at the newly-arrived baby exclaimed, 'What a little poppet!'. David Herbert wrote in his autobiography that she grew up to be 'extremely attractive, she had almost as many boyfriends as her father had mistresses' (D. Herbert, Second Son, London, 1973, p. 61). She married three times, first to Derek Jackson, then to Villers Bergne and finally to Wilhelm Pol.
The sitter recalled how she and her sister Vivien were often required to pose for their father, 'if I caught his eye he would ask me very politely to come and pose for him, and this would mean the whole morning gone ... all our plans for swimming at Bicton or riding in the forest with Vivien' (see M. Holroyd, Augustus John, London, 1996, pp. 536-37).