Linda MacNeil began her prodigious career as a metalsmith while she was still a teenager. Crafting wire jewelry in a basement studio set up by her father, she successfully sold the pieces on the street to passersby. MacNeil grew up in Hanover, New Hampshire, in a family filled with creative individuals, from her father who designed machinery to her clothing designer mother to relatives who were architects. Committed to art at an early age, MacNeil studied at the Philadelphia College of Art and the Massachusetts College of Art, where she was introduced to glass and her future husband, Dan Dailey. She received her B.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1976.