Edward William Cooke was a marine artist.   Born on 27 March 1811 in Chapel Street, Pentonville, London, he was the second of eleven children of the engraver and print publisher George Cooke and his wife, Elizabeth Harriet Eglinton.

Cooke was educated at Grove House School in Woodford, Essex, England and began his artistic training in the studios of his father, his uncle William Bernard, and family acquaintances.

As a marine artist, Cooke worked under the painter Clarkson Stanfield making drawings of nautical details and studied onboard the West Indiaman Thetis and HMS Agamemnon.  In 1833 Cooke began painting in oils. He took formal lessons from James Stark in 1834.

He emulated nature and the works of Richard Parkes Bonington and began exhibiting at the Royal Academy and the British Institution from 1835. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1851 and was made a Royal Academician in 1863.

Cooke travelled abroad frequently, touring, according to John Munday, France from 1833, the Netherlands from 1837, western Italy from 1845 to 1846, Venice from 1850, Sweden and Denmark in 1853, Spain in 1861, and Egypt in 1874.

Cooke died at Glen Andred from liver and lung cancer on 4 January 1880. On 10 January he was buried at the church in Groombridge. Sales of his remaining works were held on 22 May 1880 and 11 March 1882 at Christies in London.