Tana Hoban was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She has also lived in Holland and England. Hoban graduated from Moore College of Art in Philadelphia in 1938, and painted in Europe as a recipient of the John Frederick Lewis Fellowship. When she returned to Philadelphia, she worked as a free-lance advertising artist and magazine illustrator. By 1950 her work was included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and in 1953 she was the only woman mentioned in a Time magazine portfolio on "Half a Century of U.S. Photography." In 1959 she was named one of the Top Ten Women Photographers by the Professional Photographers of America. Hoban worked as an instructor in photography at the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania from 1966 to 1968. In 1967 she produced and filmed Catsup, an award-winning film which was shown at the Venice Film Festival. By 1955, she had written a book on photographing children, and in 1970 she combined her skills as a photographer with her interest in children to produce her first juvenile picture book, Shapes and Things. In 1973, Hoban served as project photographer for Beginning Concepts, a series of sound filmstrips produced by Scholastic Magazines, Inc. From 1974 to 1976 she taught photography at New York University. As of 1990, five of her books had been listed as ALA Notables. She has received awards for her entire body of work three separate times. In 1991, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from her alma mater, the Moore College of Art. Her works are included in the Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota and the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, among other collections in both the United States and France.