Henry William Kirkwood was born in Berwick-on-Tweed, Scotland. He arrived in New Zealand circa 1879. He initially lived in Dunedin and Nelson, moving to Wellington circa 1900. He lived in New Plymouth 1904-1910, in Wanganui until about 1914, Palmerston North 1916, Napier 1917 and Auckland 1918-1922, with short periods in Whangarei and New Plymouth after this. In 1924, he moved to Sydney to live with his son. He died in Sydney in 1925. Many of his paintings are of the South Island lakes and mountains, especially Fiordland. He travelled extensively round New Zealand to find subjects for his paintings. He had many pupils in New Zealand. Most of his known work is in oils on both board and canvas. Kirkwood's work is represented in the New Zealand National Art Gallery.