Harold Hume Piffard (1867-1939)

Harold Hume Piffard (10 August 1867 – 17 January 1939) was a British artist, illustrator, and one of the first British aviators. Piffard was born in Marylebone, the sixth son of Charles Piffard (4 July 1829 – 2 July 1884) and his wife Emily, née Hume (1837 – 1911), the daughter of James Hume, a barrister and Magistrate at Calcutta. They had married in Calcutta on 1 June 1858. Charles had received his BA at Clare College, Cambridge in 1848, was called to the Bar on 17 November 1854, and was awarded an MA from Clare College on 30 June 1856. Charles was Clerk of the Crown in the High Court of Calcutta. Piffard's four eldest brothers had all been born in India. He was educated at Lancing College, being sent there together with his older brother Lawrence in 1877. He was still there at the time of the 1881 census. A year earlier he had run away from school to find employment on the stage, sleeping on the Embankment for several nights while he visited theatres and music halls. In February 1884, he travelled to India, where he travelled and worked on a tea plantation. In 1889, he returned to London and began to study art at the Royal Academy Schools, exhibiting his first painting at the Royal Academy in 1895 and living in St Pancras. On 4 June 1895 he married Helena Katherine Docetti Walker (1 August 1871 – 27 November 1900)—at St John's Free Church in Dundee. By 1899, he had moved to 18 Addison Road, Bedford Park, Chiswick, London, where he remained until he died. Piffard painted a wide variety of subjects in both oils and watercolour. Piffard started his work as an illustrator with contributions to periodicals including The Strand Magazine, The Illustrated London News and The Penny Pictorial Magazine. He began to illustrate books in 1895, eventually illustrating over a hundred novels by authors including Frances Hodgson Burnett, Guy Boothby, Harry Collingwood, Mrs. Henry Wood, Richard Marsh, Max Pemberton, and J. M. Neale, as well as a series of classics for Collins including works by Thackeray, Dickens, and George Eliot.