Alexander Ver Huell was born on 7th March 1822 in Doesburg. After the death of a younger brother, he remained the only child of Maurits Ver Huell and Louise de Vaynes van Brakell. Alexander started to draw at an early age. In 1838, he was enrolled in the Leiden Paedagogium voor Oude Talen, a school where Dr Jacob de Gelder was the headmaster. There, Alexander prepared himself for his studies at university, entirely according to the wishes of his parents, who hoped for him to enter the diplomatic service. But Dr de Gelder and Mr C.H. van Ameron, his art teacher, also encouraged him to develop his gift for drawing further.
In September 1840 at the age of 18, Alexander began to study law at the University of Leiden. He soon became a member of the students’ union that had just been founded. In the beginning of 1841, he illustrated Studenten-typen by the humorist Kneppelhout under In the pen name of O. Veralby. His friendship with Jan Kneppelhout, his senior by eight years, greatly contributed towards Ver Huell’ s development. Kneppelhout helped him develop his artistic self-awareness and introduced him to his circle of acquaintances, including the painter Cornet, the custodian of the Leiden print collection. Due to of all sorts of activities related to his position on the editorial staff of the Studenten-Almanak and a grand pageant in 1845, Alexander started to lag behind in his studies. He did not complete them until 1848.