Eileen was born and brought up in Birmingham. She lived in London for over twenty years before moving to Wiltshire where she now lives. She worked as a school teacher and a youth worker before becoming an author and illustrator. Her first book was published in 1977.
Eileen believes "Certain groups of people are not well represented in books. For example, females only feature as main characters in around 30% of children's books. Because of this, I give them priority. Where's That Bus? was one of the first animal picture books with all female characters." Eileen has written books with Kit Wright and Floella Benjamin. In 2004, Handa's Surprise was made into a theatre production by the Little Angel Theatre, London. Since then it has played in many London theatres, schools, Holloway Prison and at the Guardian Hay Festival.