Martha Simkins was born in Monticello, Florida and moved to Corsicana in 1871, and was educated in public schools. She attended the University of Texas and then moved to New York where she studied six years at the Art Students League of New York and a year at Columbia University. She studied under William Merritt Chase, Kenyon Cox, and Henry Siddons Mowbray. She returned to Corsicana and taught in the public schools in 1901. She then taught at North Texas Normal School in Denton from 1901 to 1906. Simkins returned to New York and studied with William Merritt Chase again, and Henry Bayley Snell and Emil Carlsen, after which she travel to Europe where she studied with Cecilia Beaux nd John Singer Sargent. From 1915 to 1924, Simkins divided her time and work between New York City, Woodstock, where she maintained a studio, and her home in Dallas. She continued teaching--College of Industrial Arts, Denton--and produced a numerous amount of portrait commissions. She died in Los Angeles County, California.