His father was Thomas Matthews Rooke (1842-1942), a member of the Royal Watercolour Society and portrait painter. Noel studied art at Slade School of Fine Art in London and Central School of Arts and Crafts. In 1904 he started wood-engraving, going on to revive this kind of work in Britain with Eric Gill. From 1905, he was teacher of illustration at the Central School of Arts and Craft; from 1914 he also taught wood-engraving. He also illustrated books. In 1920, he became one of the founders of the Society of Wood-Engravers and was elected as an associate of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers.