Millais was born in Southampton in 1829, son of a prominent Jersey-based family.
His talent was so obvious to his family that they moved from Jersey to London and the back parlour of 83 Gower Street was converted into a studio.
He was a very good looking child and precocious and perhaps a touch spoilt. He joined the RA School (where the National Gallery is now) at the age of 11 as a child prodigy - the youngest ever member. He had an exceptional talent and soon began to win many prizes, occasionally to the jealously of his fellow pupils (who always called him 'the child'). After winning the Silver Medal of the Society of Arts, they hung him out a window suspended only by scarves and bits of string until his plight was noticed from the pavement below.