Born October 22, 1882, in Needham, Massachusetts, Newell Convers Wyeth is one of America’s most beloved artists and children’s book illustrators.
He grew up on a farm near Walden Pond. His mother encouraged him to pursue his artistic talent, but his father told him to be practical and be educated as a draftsman. To that end, he went to the Mechanic Arts High School, but also attended the Massachusetts Normal Art School. By the time he moved to Delaware in 1902 to learn from Howard Pyle, he had already studied with Charles W. Reed and Eric Pape.
His first illustration was published in February 1903, a bronco buster on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post. His painting entitled “Bronco Buster” is held in the collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Pyle told him it wasn’t enough to be enamored of the West, that Wyeth needed to experience it. Charles Scribners’ Sons paid for two trips to America’s West in 1904 and 1906. In 1911, Wyeth completed his first commission for Scribners’, painting the illustrations for Treasure Island.
With his $2,500 in hand, he purchased 18 acres of land on Rocky Hill in the village of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. Here, he and his wife, Carolyn Bockius, would raise their five children, most of whom continued to live there as adults, raising their own families. Henriette Wyeth Hurd was a painter, the only one of N.C.’s children to live away from home, in New Mexico. Ann Wyeth McCoy was a composer. Nat Wyeth was an engineer and invented the plastic soda bottle. Carolyn Wyeth, a painter, remained at the family homestead until her death in 1994. Andrew Wyeth, perhaps the most famous of N.C. and Carol’s children, was a painter as well.
N.C. Wyeth illustrated some of the most memorable children’s books, including The Black Arrow, The Boy’s King Arthur, and Robin Hood. N.C. Wyeth died in 1945, when the car he was driving collided with a train.