Rosaleen Norton was the third daughter of Albert Thomas Norton, a master mariner from London, and his New Zealand-born wife Beena Salek, née Aschman. Norton was expelled from the Church of England Girls' School, Chatswood, at the age of 14 for producing 'depraved' drawings of vampires, ghouls and werewolves thought likely to corrupt the other girls. She later studied for two years at East Sydney Technical College under Rayner Hoff who encouraged her 'pagan' creativity.
Norton became known as 'The Witch of Kings Cross' as a result of her fascination with the supernatural and her highly explicit art works, drawn from occult imagery. She was a Sydney identity famed for her lifestyle as much as her art. She is the subject of the book, Rosaleen Norton : Kings Cross Witch, by Richard Moir (1994).