Howard Pyle: Biography, Quotes & Facts

Instructor: Summer Stewart

Summer has taught creative writing and sciences at the college level. She holds an MFA in Creative writing and a B.A.S. in English and Nutrition

American children's illustrator and writer Howard Pyle had a successful career during the nineteenth century. He is best remembered for his work ''The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood''. This lesson covers his life and explores related quotes and facts.

Meet the Creator of Robin Hood

The myths of Robin Hood existed long before Howard Pyle brought them to life in his book The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, but it was his stunning illustrations and reinvention of the stories that everybody remembers. Howard Pyle was an author and illustrator whose career lasted throughout the last half of the nineteenth century. In addition to illustrating and writing children's books, Pyle was a trained muralist. This lesson goes over his life and looks at quotes from his life to create a fuller picture of Howard Pyle.

Author and illustrator Howard Pyle


Formative Years

From the beginning of his life in Wilmington, Delaware on March 5, 1853, Howard Pyle was pushed to learn drawing, literature, and art by his parents. His mother frequently read fables to him, and Pyle said that ''The stories of childhood leave an indelible impression, and their author always has a niche in the temple of memory from which the image is never cast out to be thrown on the rubbish heap of things that are outgrown and outlived.'' His own childhood experience with fairy tales inspired him. Furthermore, his parents had him studying art in private institutions; he even studied under the renowned Dutch artist F. A. Van der Wielen at his studio in Philadelphia.

Although Howard Pyle didn't continue his formal education in art, he began writing and drawing, eventually submitting an illustrated article about Chincoteague, a small island off the Virginia coast, to Scribner's Monthly. Although it wasn't published, the publication pushed him to focus his career sights on illustration. Howard moved to New York City, took a few art classes, and began building his career.


In 1876, Howard Pyle sold his first illustration to Harper's Weekly, and the publication helped him launch his career. From there, he was able to publish illustrations in many prestigious publications. Pyle continued to work in New York City for two more years, until he decided to return home to Wilmington, Delaware. In 1881, Howard Pyle met and married Anne Poole. They settled into a nice home and grew their family, which would eventually amount to seven children!

Between 1881 and 1883, Pyle worked fervently on The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. The book was published in 1883 and was very successful. The success convinced Pyle to continue illustrating and writing books for children. He went onto write Pepper and Salt, The Wonder Clock, Men of Iron, and A Modern Aladdin. Drawing pictures to go with his stories wasn't always a piece of cake, though. Pyle said, ''Don't believe you cannot do good work unless you feel in tile mood for it. That is all nonsense. I frequently have to force myself to make a start in the morning; but after a short while I find I can work. Only hard and regular work will bring success.'' The phrase ''in tile mood'' means ''in the mood.''

When Pyle wasn't creating children's books, he worked as an illustrator for American history books and public venues. He also worked at the Drexel Institute of Art as a teacher from 1894 to 1900; he learned how to paint murals, both on his own and through classes taught at the school. After he taught himself how to paint murals, he received a few commissions in the field, including the mural at the Minnesota state capital, titled The Battle of Nashville. Pyle's artwork was incredibly accurate, historically, and he believed that ''art is the expression of those beauties and emotions that stir the human soul.'' He wanted his work to create an emotional response.

Bunker Hill by Howard Pyle
bunker hill

Beginning in 1903, Pyle began publishing stories about King Arthur. He published The Story of King Arthur and His Knights in 1903, The Story of the Champions of the Round Table in 1905, The Story of Sir Launcelot and His Companions in 1907, and The Story of the Grail and the Passing of King Arthur in 1909. The books were special because Pyle didn't rewrite the traditional tales; instead he changed them and gave them a new life. All of the books were illustrated and written so children could understand them.

Illustration from Pyle
pyle art

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