Media File
Katharine Pyle
Date: American painter, illustrator, and author, 1863–1938
Biography: Wilmington DE native Katharine Pyle (1863-1938) was the younger sister of illustrator Howard Pyle. Her earliest works were poems published in St. Nicholas (1880) and Harper’s Bazaar (1884); by 1883, she had completed studies at the Women’s Industrial School (Philadelphia) and was attending the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, where she concentrated on engraving. She began her illustration career when she wrote and decorated the verses in Howard Pyle’s The Wonder Clock, published in Harper’s Young People in 1886-87 and as a book in 1887; he wrote and illustrated the stories. After the death of their mother in 1885, Katharine took over the family's household tasks until her move to New York City in 1892, where she continued to receive commissions from Harper’s Bazar and St. Nicholas, enrolled at the Art Students League, and illustrated Edith M. Thompson’s book of poetry In Sunshine Land (1895).

Katharine returned to Wilmington in late 1895 or early 1896. In the late 1890s, she studied with Howard in his illustration classes at Drexel Institute, while working on periodical and book illustration. In 1898, she wrote and illustrated The Counterpane Fairy (NY: E. P. Dutton), which was quite successful. In 1902, her book Where the Wind blows was illustrated by fellow Pyle-student Bertha Corson Day.

In 1904 Katharine moved to Boston, where she taught art at Lincoln House, a settlement house, and painted portraits during her summers on Cape Cod. She returned to Wilmington in 1909. Shortly thereafter, she was successfully treated for tuberculosis in Asheville NC. Once healthy, she continued to illustrate and publish, along with her charitable activities in the Wilmington area. Her last works, books published between 1928 and her death in 1938, centered on legendary fairy tales with moral messages.