University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Howard Pyle Correspondence

1890 - 1904

Manuscript Collection Number: 233
Extent: 16 items.
Content: Correspondence.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: 1991 by Tim Murray.

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Table of Contents

Biographical Note

Howard Pyle was born on March 5, 1853 in Wilmington, Delaware. He was the son of William Pyle, a leather manufacturer, and Margaret Churchman Painter Pyle. Pyle's formal art education consisted of three years of study with the Antwerp-trained artist, Van der Weilen, in Philadelphia from 1869-1872. Following the publication of an illustrated article in Scribners Magazine in 1876, Pyle moved to New York where he attended classes at the Art Students League and continued to produce short tales and illustrations for magazines such as Harper's Weekly and St. Nicholas.

In 1879, Pyle moved back to Wilmington; he continued to contribute work to popular magazines and also obtained assignments for book illustrations and began to write and illustrate his own books. Among his best-known early works was an illustrated adaptation of the Robin Hood legends The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood (1883). For much of his career Pyle produced similar works with a particular emphasis on Arthurian and medieval legends, American colonial tales, adventure stories, and books for children. Pyle also produced illustrations for books by prominent authors of his time including William Dean Howells, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry Van Dyke, James Branch Cabell, and John Greenleaf Whittier.

Although Pyle is regarded as one of the pre-eminent illustrators of his time, he also maintained a successful painting career. In addition, he was a respected teacher at the Drexel Institute in Philadelphia (where he was appointed director of the School of Illustration), at the Art Institute in Chicago, and at the Art Student League in New York. In 1898, Pyle, with financial backing from Drexel, founded a summer art school at Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania; the summer school proved successful and continued until 1903. In 1900, Pyle resigned his position at Drexel and founded the Howard Pyle School of Art in Wilmington. Pyle's former students include many of the best-known American illustrators of the period including Elizabeth Shippen Green, Thornton Oakley, Violet Oakley, N. C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish, and Frank Schoonover.

In 1905, Pyle ceased his work as a formal art teacher, though he continued to lecture and advise former students. His illustration career remained highly successful and he also began to receive commissions for murals. In 1910 Pyle travelled to Italy to study murals. Howard Pyle died during that trip on November 9, 1911 in Florence, Italy.


Agosta, Lucien L. Howard Pyle. Boston: Twayne Publishers [1987].

Scope and Content Note

A small collection of sixteen items includes letters from Howard Pyle to various individuals; and letters to Pyle from the authors Hamlin Garland and Richard Harding Davis, and the artists Joseph Pennell and John T. McCutcheon. Also included is a copy of Howard Pyle's bookplate with his clipped signature accompanying.

Related collection:

MS 120 Katharine Pyle Papers

Contents List

Folder -- Contents

F1   Letters from Howard Pyle to [A.H.] Bicknell and [H.H.] Harper concerning some
   etchings, 1912-1903
     1902 Apr 30    "Dear Mr. Bicknell"           TNS  1 p.
          Dec 26    "Dear Mr. Harper"             TNS  1 p.
     1903 Mar 01    "Dear Mr. Bicknell"           TNS  1 p.

F2   Correspondence from the author Hamlin Garland to Howard Pyle.
     1900 Feb 06         ALS  1 p.
     [1903] Dec 23       ALS  1 p. with ANS on verso
          Dec 31         ALS  1 p.
     1904 Jan 17         ALS  1 p.
     [1904] Jan 19       ALS  2 pp.

F3   Miscellaneous letters from Howard Pyle
     1890 Jan 24    to "My Dear Friend"           ALS  4 pp.
     1903 Mar 23    to "Mr. Oberteuffer"          TLS  1 p.
                    Accompanied by an autograph presentation note and an envelope.

F4   Miscellaneous letters to Howard Pyle
     [n.d.]         from Davis, Richard Harding   ALS  2 pp.
     [n.d.]         from McCutcheon, John T.      ALS  2 pp.
     1903 Nov 21    from Pennell, Joseph          ALS  2 pp.

     Bookplate of Howard Pyle with his clipped autograph signature, originally taped to the
     bookplate, accompanying.
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