Spencelayh grew up in Rochester. He trained at the South Kensington School (later renamed the Royal College of Art), and later in Paris. He made his debut at the Royal Academy in 1892 and continued to send pictures there for the next sixty-six years.
Listening In shows an old man listening attentively to a modern wireless. The subject matter was typical of the artist whose obituarist said he mainly painted 'old codgers - the obsolete slang rises unbidden - in junk-crammed interiors that will be of considerable interest to the social historian of the future'.