Leslie Ward, the son of two artists, E. M. Ward and Henrietta Ward, was born in 1851. After being educated at Eton, Ward trained under Sidney Smirke and W. P. Frith. He exhibited at the Royal Academy and received commissions for portraits.
In 1873 Ward was recruited by the editor of Vanity Fair to replace Carlo Pellegrini (Ape). Ward, who signed his work Spy, contributed over 2,387 caricatures to Vanity Fair over the next forty years. Leslie Ward, who was knighted in 1918, died in 1922.