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Edward Wilkins Waite was born in April 1854, in the city of Leatherhead, England. He was the son of Cleopha Julia and his husband Reverend Edward Waite, a dissenting minister. He was the second of eight siblings, two girls and six boys.
He was born into a family of artistic tradition, William Watkin Waite, his grandfather, was a miniaturist. His father was an amateur watercolor painter. Three of his siblings became artists, and two became musicians. Waits himself was an amateur musician, playing the violin. In his late years is recorded as an orchestra conductor at Woolhampton.
Waite frequented the Mansion House Grammar School, in Leatherhead, where he was educated.
When he was about 20 years old, Waite traveled to Ontario, Canada, and worked as a lumberjack for a time. There is a sketchbook of this very journey that survived. Upon his return to England, Waite would take up painting rather seriously and soon became his profession.
He also exhibited in other significant galleries throughout the United Kingdom besides the Royal Academy, such as the Royal Society of British Artists, where he became a member in 1893. He also exhibited at the New Gallery and the Institute of Paintings in Oil Colours in London, the Walker Gallery in Liverpool, and many other galleries in the cities of Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester, and Dublin.
Waite was an exquisite landscape painter, often depicting scenes from his native Surrey. Much of his compositions portrayed rural scenes, which evoked a keen atmosphere os bucolic, idyllic quietness. This result was the amalgamation of a very delicate brushstroke and, in many cases, the absence of any human figure, only untroubled animals. And when the human figure appears, they are always in a peaceful state.