James William Booth was born in Middleton, near Manchester, in the 28th November 1867, into a wealthy family - his father was a prominent local businessman and would later serve as Mayor of Middleton between 1895-96. He studied at the Manchester School of Art under Elias Mollineaux Bancroft (1846-1924), likely alongside Fred Jackson and Albert George Stevens, and by whom he was inspired to visit Staithes. He initially lodged at Brown's Terrace, Hinderwell, and at one point shared a studio by the Beck mouth in Staithes with Laura and Harold Knight.
Booth was good friends with Frederick William Jackson, whom he first met exhibiting at the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts, and the two would often paint together; this can be seen in the similarity of the pair's styles. Although James Booth painted a variety of subjects including landscapes, seascapes, portraits and still lifes, he is most noted for his depictions of horses, similar to fellow Staithes Group member John Atkinson; this is likely a combination of his studies of animal anatomy at various slaughter houses, and his father's ownership and training of racehorses.
The artist exhibited widely, including at the Royal Academy, the Manchester Academy, the Yorkshire Union of Artists, the Staithes Art Club (of which he was elected a member in its second year), and the Royal Cambrian Academy. Booth was a particular supporter of the latter, elected a member in 1896 and later offered the office of President, which he regretfully had to decline on account of his deafness, which rendered him unable to host and speak at official events. This affliction did not affect his quality of life, however, and he was a keen billiards and cricket player - his second wife was the daughter of noted Yorkshire wicket-keeper David Hunter.
James Booth moved to Scalby, near Scarborough, in 1901, and lived in the village until his death on the 18th August 1953; he first lived at Haswell, and moved to Stoneleigh Lodge, Station Road, in 1911. His work is now held by Nottingham Castle Museum, Manchester City Art Gallery, Kirkleatham Museum, Salford Museum, the Pannett Gallery Whitby, and more.