Tasha Tudor is a present-day children's author and illustrator that has lived most of her life in the manner of one living in the 19th century.
It seems that Tasha Tudor has always known exactly how she wanted to live. From the time she was a little girl, she dreamed of living on a secluded farm where she could surround herself with a garden and a slew of household pets and barnyard animals. She also knew that she wanted to illustrate children's books. Today she can look back on her
life with satisfaction that she has fulfilled both of her dreams.
Tasha has lived most of her life in the New England countryside and currently lives in a setting of her own creation in rural Vermont, reminiscent of an earlier time.
Tasha Tudar is also a much-celebrated illustrator, and has illustrated nearly one hundred books. Among her most famous illustrations are for the books Mother Goose, The Secret Garden, The Little Princess, Little Women, and The Winds in the Willows.
In her mid-80's, Tasha Tudor has emerged as a lifestyle icon. She has spent her life cultivating a world of her own making. Tudor's illustrative style is self-taught and is direct reflection of her own lifestyle and interest in the early 1800's. She lives a simple lifestyle
reminiscent of the 1830's, spinning and weaving flax into cloth, sewing her own old-fashioned long dresses, cooking on a wood-burning stove, milking goats and hand-dipping candles to light her rooms. She spends hours working barefoot in both her vegetable and flower gardens and
peacefully working on illustrations for current projects.
Tasha's art is a world of beauty and imagination. It also has an old-fashioned charm. The scenes she paints are mostly of happy family outings, animals, sunshine, laughter, simplicity and peace, depicting a way of life many yearn for but few achieve. People seem to be drawn
to the sense of innocence and nostalgia depicted in her work. But for Tasha, the scenes she paints represent her reality. She paints what she sees every day - her house, her garden, animals, children, and friends.
It is not just because of her work as an author and illustrator that makes Tasha Tudor a remarkable woman. Tasha is a noteworthy woman because in this world of mass-produced, Hollywood values, she has had the courage to create her own world and live out her dreams.
Tasha was born Starling Burgess on August 28, 1915 in Boston
Massachusetts. Her father was William Starling Burgess, a noted yacht designer and enthusiastic sailor. Her mother, Rosamond Tudor, was an accomplished portrait painter who always used her maiden name professionally. Tasha was a nickname given to her by her father and it became the name she was known by.
Both William and Rosamond were nonconformists in many ways.
William was a master storyteller and was given to impromptu
performances and Rosamond generally favored the "Bohemian life" of an artist. While they were individualistic, they also had impeccable manners and social graces. Tasha is much like her parents in these respects. While she has chosen to live by her own standards rather than those imposed by society, she has the manners and graces of the
genteel. She attended the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts and later continued her training under several prominent artists.
Tasha's parents divorced when she was only nine years old. Her mother took her with her to live in Greenwich Village in New York City, so Rosamond could work seriously on her painting. But while Greenwich Village was then a popular place for many important writers and artists that came there to live "the Bohemian life", it was not a good place to raise a child. Because of this, Tasha was sent to live with family friends in Redding, Connecticut, visiting her mother on many weekends. According to Tasha, it was living most of her childhood in this setting that had the greatest influence on her life and work.
In 1936, Tasha met Thomas Leighton McCready, Jr. Though he spent much of his life living in a New York suburb, he now lived in Redding, also. Though he liked the country, Thomas enjoyed city life more. They fell in love and were married in 1938 at her mother's house. Tasha felt that she could "turn" Thomas into a farmer and in order to
please his new bride he attempted that way of life once they were married. They lived and farmed her mother's farm for quite a few years while her mother was away painting in Guatemala. They had cows, geese, ducks, and a flock of hens. Thomas ran a milk route, selling cream, milk, butter, and eggs to nearby people. Tasha got up early to
milk the cows by hand and take care of all the household chores, including tending a huge garden. This she did without the conveniences of running water or electricity.
It was also in 1938 that Tasha had her first book published. "Pumpkin Moonshine" was originally written as a Christmas present for her niece and after it was published it was a great success. The publishing of this book set the stage for others that Tasha would write and illustrate in the ensuing 60 plus years. Like her mother, Tasha used the name Tudor as her professional name. She eventually had her name legally changed to Tasha Tudor.
As the young couple began a family, Connecticut did not seem rural enough for Tasha. She had always wanted to live in Vermont, but Thomas, however, felt Vermont was far too remote, so when it came time for the McCready's to move, they settled for a place in New Hampshire. They found an old farm that had been sadly neglected, and over the years, Tasha brought it back to life. While there was no
running water and electricity on the farm until the youngest was five years old, it was here that she raised her four children, Seth, Bethany, Efner, and Thomas.
Once her family was grown, Tasha decided that the large farmhouse was too large and empty for her to live happily in. So in 1971, Tasha sold her house in New Hampshire, and decided to fulfill her dream of living in Vermont. Her son, Seth, had already moved to Vermont, and Tasha decided to try to find land near him. With her usual good
fortune, the first day she went looking for land in Vermont, Tasha found a nice-sized piece of property for sale adjoining Seth's property. It was just what she was looking for and Seth built the house and barns
according to her plans. She went on to landscape the property just as she had envisioned as a child with gardens, orchards, and a lovely deep woods.
Almost 30 years have past since Tasha moved to Vermont, and the buildings have aged sufficiently to trick any visitor into feeling as if they've crossed the boundaries of time, back to the 19th century. You see, Tasha has chosen to live as one in the 1830's. It is here, living in
surroundings she had always wanted, that Tasha continues to work from dawn to dusk, milking her goats, making her own cheese and butter, spinning and weaving cloth from her own flax, painting, and above all working in her beloved gardens.
Tasha has no regrets in life. She doesn't spend time thinking of past mistakes, but lives her life in the present, enjoying the life she's made for herself, living out her dreams.