William Gawin Herdman was born in Liverpool, the son of a corn merchant. He enrolled at the Liverpool Academy in 1824 and later worked as an art teacher. He exhibited at the Royal Academy, Royal Society of British Artists and the Liverpool Academy, of which he became Secretary in 1848. However, he was expelled from the Liverpool Academy in 1857. In the following year he helped to found the Liverpool Society of Fine Arts and he was also involved in setting up the first shilling art union. Herdman wrote on diverse subjects including cosmology and skating, and composed hymns and poetry. He had 16 children, four of whom became topographical artists. He died in Liverpool at the age of 77.
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