Howard Pyle: Books, Paintings & Illustrations

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In this lesson, we will discuss the books, paintings, and illustrations of Howard Pyle. This illustrator and author is best known for his work on 'The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood.'

Children's Illustrator

Think about your favorite book when you were in elementary school. Can you still remember the illustrations? The pictures in books engage readers, provide context to a story, and enable younger readers who are not yet ready to fully read or comprehend the text to develop an interest in a story. Howard Pyle, an American author and illustrator who lived from 1853-1911, brought many classic children's stories to life. Let's examine some of his work.


In 1883, The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood of Great Renown in Nottinghamshire was written and illustrated by Howard Pyle. Pyle did not create the original characters, but rather borrowed from old ballads to create stories that were geared towards children. In lieu of historical accuracy, Pyle's Robin Hood focused on creating entertaining adventure stories about the altruistic Robin Hood as a heroic outlaw. His perception of Robin Hood has influenced other authors, such as Louis Rhead and Paul Creswick.

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood~
Robin Hood

In 1887, Pyle write and illustrated The Wonder Clock, which is an anthology of children's fairytales that are based on folk literature from Germany, England, and Scandinavia. The book is comprised of 24 stories, one for each hour of the day.

Other books by Pyle include:

  • Men of Iron
  • Twilight Land
  • The Garden Behind the Moon: A Real Story of the Moon Angel
  • The Story of King Arthur and His Knights
  • The Story of the Champions of the Round Table
  • The Story of Sir Launcelot and His Companions
  • The Book of Pirates


Pyle began his career as an illustrator after studying art in Philadelphia. At first, he submitted illustrations to magazines, such as ''Harper's Weekly,'' ''St. Nicholas,'' and ''Scribner's Magazine.'' After creating illustrations for his own books and books by other authors, Pyle began teaching at the Drexel Institute of Art. Eventually, he opened his own art school called Brandywine School, which included the students-turned-illustrators such as N.C. Wyeth (Treasure Island) and Maxfield Parrish (Arabian Nights).

Works illustrated by Pyle, but written by other authors include:

  • The Line of Love by James Branch Cabell
  • Chivalry by James Branch Cabell
  • The Apple of Venus by Marjorie Bowen
  • The Garden of Eden by Justus Miles Forman

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