McBey attended evening classes at Gray's School of Art and taught himself etching. A great traveller, in 1912 he travelled to Morocco, beginning a long association with North Africa. He bought a house near Tangier, and later a second property in Marrakesh. He was to remain there, with regular trips to America and Britain, until his death in 1959. McBey thought that many of his best works were those executed in North Africa.
Tetuan, is the capital of Northern Morocco.