Early life[change | change source]
Payne was born in Wendover, England. In 1919, she won a scholarship to Newnham College, Cambridge University. She studied botany, physics, and chemistry. She was not given a degree because women were not given degrees by Cambridge until 1948. In 1923 she moved to the United States. She became an American citizen in 1931.
Personal life[change | change source]
In 1933, she met Russian-born astrophysicist Sergei I. Gaposchkin in Germany. She married him in 1934.