Born in Dewsbury in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England. Pickering was educated at Dewsbury Grammar School and Tettenhall College. He subsequently entered business as a woollen manufacturer in partnership with John Greaves. The Pickering Greaves business, based at Ravensthorpe Mills, continued until 1926.
In 1911 Pickering joined the part-time Territorial Force when he received a commission as a second lieutenant in the 2nd West Riding Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. He was promoted to full lieutenant in 1913. With the outbreak of war in August 1914 the unit was mobilised. Pickering was promoted to captain and then to temporary major before the brigade moved to the Western Front in April 1915. Pickering was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for "great gallantry and an utter disregard of his own person" in 1917, and twice mentioned in dispatches, Pickering ended the war with the rank of lieutenant-colonel.
When a general election was called at the end of 1918, Pickering was chosen to contest the Dewsbury constituency as a Coalition Conservative candidate. The election was a three-way contest between Pickering, Benjamin Riley of the Independent Labour Party and the sitting member of parliament, Walter Runciman of the anti-coalition Liberal Party faction. Pickering was elected to the Commons, receiving 7,853 votes, more than 2,000 ahead of Riley while Runciman finished third. In 1919 he married Evelyn Shaw of Brooklands, near Halifax, and the couple had two sons. Pickering only served one term in parliament, choosing to stand down at the next election in 1922.
He continued his association with the reconstituted Territorial Army, becoming commanding officer of the 70th (West Riding) Field Brigade, Royal Artillery. He retired from the army in 1926, when he received the brevet rank of colonel and the Territorial Decoration.
Pickering retired to his residence, Netherton Hall, near Wakefield. He was appointed a justice of the peace and a Deputy Lieutenant of the West Riding of Yorkshire. He continued to work for the interests of ex-service men, and became chairman of the Yorkshire Branch of the British Legion.
- "A Great War D.S.O. Group of Seven to Colonel E.W. Pickering, Royal Artillery". Christie's. 2001. Retrieved 29 August 2011.
- The London Gazette: . 31 December 1926.
- The London Gazette: . 21 April 1911.
- The London Gazette: . 16 September 1913.
- The London Gazette: . 1 January 1915.
- The London Gazette: . 29 December 1916.
- "The New House Of Commons. 250 Service Members". The Times. 20 January 1919. p. 9.
- "PICKERING, Bt Col Emil William". Who Was Who. Oxford University Press. December 2007. Retrieved 29 August 2011.
- The London Gazette: . 5 November 1926.
- "Obituary: Colonel E. W. Pickering". The Times. 21 March 1942. p. 6.
- "Funerals". The Times. 19 March 1942. p. 7.
- Hirst, Geoff (November 2008). "Thornhill Parish Church War Memorial". Kirklees Council. Retrieved 29 August 2011.
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Lieut-Colonel Emil Pickering
- Portraits of Emil William Pickering at the National Portrait Gallery, London
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Dewsbury