Cateau De Leeuw was born in Hamilton, Ohio on September 22, 1903—four years after her sister Adele, with whom she collaborated on creative works throughout her life. Her primary interest was in art and after studying at the Metropolitan Art School and the Art Students’ League, she became a professional portraitist, eventually having studios in Paris (where she also studied for a year in 1930), New York City and Plainfield, New Jersey. It was during the economic crisis of the 1930s that she took up book illustration, and was soon illustrating her sister’s short stories for magazines. “This was a good thing,” she said, “because there was a depression and portrait commissions were scarcer than dinosaur eggs.”
Before long, Cateau became co-author with Adele on a series of titles, and then, in 1943, began producing works of her own. These various books—as well as their numerous articles and lectures—reflected the many interests of the sisters, especially for history, something stimulated and nurtured no doubt by the extensive family travels throughout South America, Europe, Africa and the Near East in the years of their childhood. As their father was Dutch, the history and culture of Holland and the Dutch East Indies was also an influence in their thought and work. In 1958, Adele and Cateau received a joint citation from their home state from the Martha Kinney Cooper Ohioana Library Association, for “outstanding work over the years for children.”
Cateau De Leeuw died in 1975.