Howard Pyle

Howard Pyle (1853 - 1911)

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Howard Pyle
Born in Wilmington, New Castle Co., DEmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died in Florence, Italymap
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Profile last modified | Created 31 Dec 2014
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Categories: American Notables.

Howard Pyle is Notable.


He trained as an artist and over a 35 year career became one of America's most prominent illustrators. He was also an exceptional teacher, both at the school he established in Wilmington and at his summer classes in Chadd's Ford, in the Brandywine Valley. Among the many students who carried on his legacy, the best known was N. C. Wyeth, the founder of a three-generation dynasty of Wyeth family artists, including Andrew, Henriette and Jamie.

Howard Pyle (March 5, 1853 – November 9, 1911) was an American illustrator and author, primarily of books for young people. A native of Wilmington, Delaware, he spent the last year of his life in Florence, Italy.

In 1894 he began teaching illustration at the Drexel Institute of Art, Science and Industry (now Drexel University). After 1900, he founded his own school of art and illustration, named the Howard Pyle School of Illustration Art. The scholar Henry C. Pitz later used the term Brandywine School for the illustration artists and Wyeth family artists of the Brandywine region, several of whom had studied with Pyle.[1] Some of his more notable students were N. C. Wyeth, Frank Schoonover, Elenore Abbott, Ethel Franklin Betts, Anna Whelan Betts, Harvey Dunn, Clyde O. DeLand, Philip R. Goodwin, Thornton Oakley, Violet Oakley, Ellen Bernard Thompson Pyle, Olive Rush, Allen Tupper True, Elizabeth Shippen Green, Arthur E. Becher, William James Aylward, and Jessie Willcox Smith. Pyle's home and studio in Wilmington, where he taught his students, is still standing and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

His 1883 classic publication The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood remains in print, and his other books, frequently with medieval European settings, include a four-volume set on King Arthur. He is also well known for his illustrations of pirates, and is credited with creating what has become the modern stereotype of pirate dress. He published his first novel, Otto of the Silver Hand, in 1888. He also illustrated historical and adventure stories for periodicals such as Harper's Weekly and St. Nicholas Magazine. His novel Men of Iron was adapted as the movie The Black Shield of Falworth (1954).

Pyle travelled to Florence, Italy in 1910 to study mural painting. He died there in 1911 of a sudden kidney infection (Bright's Disease).

Pyle was interested in drawing and writing from a very young age. He was an indifferent student, but his parents—particularly his mother—encouraged him to study art.[3] For three years he studied at the studio of F. A. Van der Weilen in Philadelphia. Aside from a few lessons at the Art Students League of New York, this constituted the whole of his artistic training.

In 1876 he visited the island of Chincoteague off Virginia. Inspired by what he saw, he wrote and illustrated an article about the island and submitted it to Scribner's Monthly. One of the magazine's owners, Roswell Smith, encouraged him to move to New York and pursue illustration professionally.[3] Pyle initially struggled in New York; his lack of professional experience made it difficult for him to translate his ideas into forms for publication. He was encouraged by several working artists, including Edwin Austin Abbey, A. B. Frost and Frederick S. Church.

He finally published a double-page spread in the Harper's Weekly issue of March 9, 1878, and was paid $75—five times what he had expected.[4] He became increasingly successful, and by the time he returned to Wilmington in 1880, he was an established artist.

He married the singer Anne Poole on April 12, 1881. The couple had seven children.

Pyle continued illustrating for magazines. He also collaborated on several books, particularly in American history. He wrote and illustrated his own stories, beginning with The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood in 1883. This book won international attention from critics such as William Morris. Over the following decades, he published many more illustrated works for children, some of which are still in print today.

In 1889 Pyle and his wife sailed to Jamaica, leaving their children in the care of relatives. While they were overseas, their son Sellers died unexpectedly. This loss may have inspired Pyle's children's book, The Garden Behind the Moon, which is about death.

From 1894–1900 he taught illustration at the Drexel Institute. In 1900 he created his own school in Wilmington, where he taught a small number of students in depth. In 1906, he took up mural painting, which was popular for public art. He painted The Battle of Nashville in the state capitol of Minnesota, and two other murals for courthouses in New Jersey.

Pyle developed his own ideas in illustrating pirate dress, as few examples survived and few, if any, drawings of authentic pirate dress had been preserved. He created a flamboyant style incorporating elements of Gypsy dress. His work influenced the design of costumes for movie pirates from Errol Flynn to Johnny Depp. It has been noted as highly impractical for working sailors.

In 1910 Pyle and his family went to Italy, where he planned to study the old masters. Suffering poor health, he felt depressed and drained of energy. After one year in the country, he suffered a kidney infection and died in Florence at the age of 58. [1]


  • "The Churchman Family of Nottingham Lots", Michael Churchman, 2013

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No known carriers of Howard's Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA have taken yDNA or mtDNA tests and no close relatives have taken a 23andMe, AncestryDNA, or Family Tree DNA "Family Finder" test.

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Howard Pyle, Illustrator
Howard Pyle, Illustrator


Howard is 25 degrees from Rosa Parks, 22 degrees from Anne Tichborne and 21 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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