Howard Pyle was an American illustrator
and author, primarily of books for young people. He was a native of
Wilmington, Delaware, and he spent the last year of his life in
Florence, Italy. In 1894, he began teaching illustration at the Drexel
Institute of Art, Science, and Industry and after 1900, he founded his
own school of art and illustration named the Howard Pyle School of
Illustration Art. His 1883 classic publication "The Merry Adventures of
Robin Hood" remains in print, and his other books frequently have
medieval European settings. He is also well known for his illustrations
of pirates, and is credited with creating what has become the modern
stereotype of pirate dress.
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THE MERRY ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD
Pyle synthesized many traditional Robin Hood legends and ballads in this
work, while toning them down to make them suitable for children. Many of
the tales in the Robin Hood book dated to the late Middle Ages. His
achievement was to integrate them into a unified story, which he also
illustrated. For example, he included "Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar"
in the narrative order to reintroduce Friar Tuck. He needed a
cooperative priest for the wedding of outlaw Allan a Dale (Pyle's
spelling of the original Alan-a-Dale) to his sweetheart Ellen. In the
original "A Gest of Robyn Hode", the life is saved of an anonymous
wrestler who had won a bout but was likely to be murdered because he was
a stranger. Pyle adapted it and gave the wrestler the identity of David
of Doncaster, one of Robin's band in the story "Robin Hood and the
Golden Arrow." In his novelistic treatment of the tales, he thus
developed several characters who had been mentioned in only one ballad,
such as David of Doncaster or Arthur a Bland.
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