Queenie Ashton was born in England in 1903. Ashton studied dancing from the age of four. From the age of 16 she studied voice production, drama and sight reading. Her first professional appearance was at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London, where she sang a duet with Noël Coward in a production of Happy Family.
Ashton began her radio career in 1924 at Radio 2LO in London singing brackets of classical songs. Her ability to both act and sing led her into musical comedy. She performed in several London productions which earned her recognition abroad and in 1927 she was offered work in the musical Sunny at the new Empire Theatre in Sydney (which later became Her Majesty’s Theatre).
She returned to England but soon came back to Australia to perform again in a number of musical comedies. In 1931 Ashton married Lionel Lawson, leader of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. They had two children, though they later divorced.
During the 1930s Queenie Ashton worked on a number of ABC radio musical comedies. She appeared regularly with Dick Bentley on 2GB’s program Oh, Quaite! In 1939, Ashton was cast in her first role as an actress in a radio drama, when she was cast as the lead in the serial Marie Antoinette.