Born into an artistic family, following his early studies at Winchester College of Art Wilkinson entered the Royal College of Art in the Painting School. He also gained a place in the Engraving School under Robert Austn R.A. and Malcolm Osbourne MA. MBE, where he won the Royal British Institute Scholarship in Engraving. This allowed him to gain a travelling scholarship and further study in Heidelberg, France and Italy. Post war Wilkinson was elected to the Royal Society of Painters, Etchers & Engravers, eventually becoming a Councillor. He was also professor of the Engraving School at the City and Guilds of London for many years.
Following the death of his mentor George Vernon Stokes in 1954, Wilkinson began to produce his pictures of dogs and other country sport scenes, producing his limited editions single-handed. He is now regarded as the master of canine engraving in the late 20th century.