The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books Image
Pyle Image

Illustration by Howard Pyle from Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates.
The Bulletin
of the Center for Children's Books:

Gone But Not Forgotten
Each month we offer a focus on a particular author or artist. Sometimes we use this space to discuss a rising new talent or an established star, but we also like to celebrate those who now live on only in the rich legacy of their books.. See the archive for focus pieces from previous months.

Howard Pyle

Illustrator and author Howard Pyle epitomizes the vision of what has come to be called "The Golden Age of American Illustration." Born in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1853, Pyle's early childhood was strongly influenced by his mother's passion for books, from the Arabian Nights to Tales from the Brothers Grimm to Ritson's collection of Robin Hood ballads. She introduced him to art as well, exposing him to the great English artists and illustrators of the day, such as Dante Gabriel Rosetti, Charles Keene, and John Tenniel.

Pyle was a mediocre scholar but his obvious talent for illustration set him on a path that would make him one of the foremost author/illustrators in the history of juvenile publishing. His influence on younger artists was great, from his teaching at Drexel University to the establishment of his own art school in 1900. Some of his more notable students included Maxfield Parrish, Jessie Wilcox Smith, Newell Convers Wyeth, Elizabeth Shippen Green, and Walter Everett.

Pyle's work was a priceless contribution to American children's literature, and set a standard of excellence for American illustration which culminated in the Brandywine School of Painting. I first encountered Howard Pyle while attempting to read my way through the fiction section at the Throggs Neck Branch of the NY Public Library. Otto of the Silver Hand, a tale of knights, politics, and survival in the harsh world of the Middle Ages, may seem a strange choice for a nine-year-old girl, but I was enthralled from the very first page. Not only was the story a portal to another time and place, but the pen and ink illustrations were remarkable for their intensity, and their ability to evoke a sense of the historical zeitgeist. I was completely taken in by the character of the motherless hero, and the thrill of an adventurous plot propelled by scenes of abandonment, kidnapping, rescue, and restoration.

My sense of romance (and of what makes a book a truly wonderful read) was strongly influenced by Pyle's courtly language and dramatic style of illustration. A comprehensive list of Pyle's work would, of necessity, include his work for adult audiences. Here follows a list of titles specifically for youth (as illustrator where noted).

--Janice M. Del Negro, Editor

Note: An excellent online resource for information about Howard Pyle can be found at the University of Pittsburg's Elizabeth Nesbitt Room Illustrator's Project at:

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This page was last updated on May 1, 2000.