Merlyn Oliver Evans (1910–1973), painter and printmaker, was born in Llandaff, Cardiff, the only child of Pryce Oliver Evans, an analytic chemist, and his wife, Minnie Veronica Edwards, a former nurse.
From 1927 to 1931 he attended Glasgow School of Art, exhibiting at the Royal Scottish Academy in 1930, and in 1931, when he won the £50 Haldane travelling scholarship and a scholarship to the Royal College of Art.
In 1934 Evans married Phyllis Sullivan, a former fellow student at the Royal College of Art, and moved to Streatham in south London. He taught art at Wilson's Grammar School, Camberwell, from 1934 to 1936, and at Riemann's design school in Belgravia from 1936 to 1938. In 1937 he exhibited with the Artists' International Association, the London Group, and in 'Surrealist Poems and Objects' at the London Gallery. In 1938 he moved with his wife and their infant son and daughter to Durban, South Africa, to teach at Natal Technical College.
In August 1942 Evans joined the South African army 14th armoured brigade, and saw action in north Africa, and with the Eighth Army in Italy, where he was awarded the Italian star. Demobilized in 1945, and his marriage recently dissolved, he returned to London.
In 1950 Evans was married again, this time to Marjorie Few, a concert pianist. After living and working in Mecklenburgh Square for some years he finally settled at 40A Downshire Hill, Hampstead, setting up a studio in a nearby disused nineteenth-century church.