Hamo Thornycroft belonged to a family of sculptors. His father, Thomas, mother Mary and grandfather John Francis were all distinguished sculptors. Born in London, his brother John Isaac Thornycroft was a successful naval engineer, and their sister, Theresa, was the mother of the poet Siegfried Sassoon. Theresa and her sisters Alyce and Helen Thornycroft were all artists.
Thornycroft was one of the youngest artists to be elected to the Royal Academy, in 1882, the same year the bronze cast of Teucer (Tate Britain) was purchased for the British nation under the auspices of the Chantrey Bequest After 1884, Thornycroft's reputation was now secure and he received commissions for a number of major monuments, most notably the innovative General Gordon statue on London’s Victoria Embankment. Thornycroft continued to be a central member of the sculptural establishment and the Royal Academy into the 20th century. He was knighted in 1917.