Helen Dryden was born in 1887 in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. She studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
She went out in the world to build a career around 1907 after graduating.
She became well-known in the 10's and early 1920's as a designer of magazine covers, and writer of fashion articles especially for Vogue magazine. The book "Fashion Drawing in Vogue" says that Conde Nast, the owner of Vogue "relished the decorative fantasies of Helen Dryden." He gave her every opportunity to get her work in front of the public who read Vogue.
Helen illustrated 4 covers in 1910 and 3 covers in 1911, as well as contributing many drawings inside the magazine.
She then went on to become one of Nast's favourite illustrators, contributing 4 covers in 1912, 5 covers in 1913, 6 covers in 1914, 5 covers in 1915, 6 covers in 1916 and 2 covers in 1917.
From then on, Helen did contributions for illustrating articles, but did not do any further covers.
In 1923, she contributed an illustration for a costume ball.
Vogue said "for all her wayward decorative instincts, never quite forgets those Eastern tricks, devices and refinements and that the costume ball unmasks the sobriety of conventional citizens. Vogue ever an exponent of the picturesque, offers charming designs by Miss Helen Dryden as is contribution to the success of the occasion.
Helen Dryden had been a long-standing contributor in New York even up to 1931. She has shown a group of fashionable people at the airport wearing clothes designed by the house of Chanel in Paris.
However after around 25 years with the magazine, her career with Vogue was almost over and her lively, consummately stylish and pretty aestheticism, an idiosyncratic confection of Beardsley, the Japanese print and Art Nouveau was not seen much in the thirties.
Home-grown American as she was, she was among the first to set the visual tone of Vogue's new look.
No other of Nast's principal illustrators was like her, and her work bears the closest comparison with that of the Frenchmen like Brissaud and Lepape, who came from the Gazette du Bon Ton.
She spent more than half a century after she left Vogue, but we do not know much about her life during that period. She died in 1981 at the age of 94.