Rita Beales was born Rita Rabone in Marlborough, New Zealand. She came to England, aged 20, to study singing at the Royal College of Music (1909-13) but the First World War curtailed her professional career. In 1917 she married Percy Beales and in c.1926, while living in Norfolk, they set up a workroom and taught themselves to hand-spin and weave wool and linen. In 1935 they moved to Compton Chamberlayne, Wiltshire and Rita Beales embarked on a full-time career as a textile craftswoman, aged 46. They settled in Gloucestershire in 1938 (Cerney Wick, then Daneway), specialising in fine table linens, as well as heavier cloth for curtains, bedspreads and upholstery. Rita Beales dyed all her yarns, using Ethel Mairet's* recipe book, and developed her ideas for weave patterns in her head, never committing any to paper.
She participated in exhibitions, and in 1937 won a certificate of merit at the International Exhibition, Paris; her work was selected for 'Modern British Crafts', arranged by the British Council to tour the USA and Canada (1942-5), and appeared annually at the Red Rose Guild, Manchester. She lived finally in Painswick (1966-87), where she worked until 1979. A retrospective exhibition was arranged by the Crafts Study Centre in 1989.
*Denotes included in the Crafts Study Centre Collection