Charles London Pickering, born in 1908 in Southwark, received most of his primary education during wartime in the Friern School in East Dulwich (1913-1920). He completed his secondary education in Goodrich Road, a "higher grade school", from 1920-1922.
In 1922, at the age of 14, Pickering started his career in the printing industry as a student at the London County Council Central School of Arts, now after mergers now called Central St Martins, a public school of fine and applied arts in London, England, where he was educated until 1939. After finishing a one-year-long course at the Bolt Court School of Photo Engraving (1930-1931), a predecessor of the London College of Communication, and completing an apprenticeship at the Baynard Press, where he worked as a composer, Pickering commenced his career as a lecturer at the Central School of Arts and Crafts (1930-1941).
Following teaching posts at the Medway College of Arts and Crafts (1933-1939) and the Guildford School of Art and Crafts (1936-1939), he worked at Medway College of Art, where he was the acting head of the Printing Department from 1939 until 1949. Pickering also gave short courses for teachers of art in typography and illustration at the Ministry of Education for the duration of World War II (1939-1945). In this time Pickering started his collection of print samples and journal and newspaper articles related to print education.
From 1949 onwards Charles Pickering worked as an Inspector of Education (HMI) with a special responsibility for book production and printing education throughout England. In his position as Inspector of Education Pickering visited print schools all over the country and evaluated their level of excellence.
Pickering was an active member of numerous print societies. Some societies he joined as early as 1926 (London Typographical Society, London Society of Compositors) and remained a loyal member until the 1990s. He was an honorary member of the City and Guilds of London Institute and the Association of Teachers of Printing and Allied Subjects (ATPAS) and a member of the Wynkyn de Worde Society, the William Morris Society and the National Graphical Association. Pickering acted as chairman of the Beatrice L. Warde Trust Fund, a scholarship created to enable disadvantaged students to commence their printing education.
As a member of the Double Crown Club, a London dining club of artists, publishers, typographers, book designers and illustrators to promote the appreciation of printing by discussion rather than campaigning, Pickering collected the club's dinner menus, which were designed by a different member every time.
Charles London Pickering died in 1998 at the age of 90.