Theodore (Ted) Taylor was born on June 23, 1921, in Statesville, North Carolina.  He was the son of a rough and tumble father and a delicate, religious mother.  Taylor and his four sisters could never understand how their parents found each other and married. 

   Life was never easy for the Taylors, and the Great Depression sent his father away in search of work.  His father kept in touch and in no way deserted them.  Taylor also did his part to help the family.  He wrote, "It did not occur to me until years later that there was anything exceptional about a boy just shy of ten getting up at 4:30 A.M. to walk, not bicycle, to a local hotel, pick up sixty-odd newspapers, deliver them by 7:00, come home, have breakfast, and go off to school."  He also sold candy and picked up scrap metal to resell to a junkyard.

   Childhood was not all work, for Taylor excelled in the practice of freedom by roaming fields and muddy creeks near his home.  The family moved to Virginia, where the family in The Cay originated, when Taylor's father found work at a naval yard.

   Taylor obtained his first writing job when he was thirteen.  He wrote the local high school's sports column for a Virginia newspaper.  After graduating from high school, he worked for a Washington, D.C., newspaper.  He never attended college, which he always regretted; however, he stated that "these newspapers I worked for were to be my college and my graduate school."

    During the Korean War, in the 1950's, he found himself stationed with the naval reserve in the Caribbean.  His unit provided hurricane relief on many of the smaller islands.  Here he found his settings  and conflicts for The Cay.  "I got the idea for The Cay from Coast Guard research on an adult book."  The two main characters for The Cay were modeled after real people, and the plot is based on a true incident.  It took three weeks to write The Cay.

   After Taylor left the U.S. Navy, he made his way to California as a press agent for a Hollywood film production company.   He became a story editor and eventually as assistant to the producer.  But he left Hollywood to make documentary films, many of the "behind the scenes" films for television.  His hobbies are ocean fishing and foreign travel.

   Taylor has written more than fifty fiction and non-fiction books for youth and adults.    His first published novel was an adult book entitled The Magnificent Mitscher:  W. W. Norton.   He has achieved 23 awards.  "I've been very lucky" is his comment about his success.  The hard-working author now writes seven days a week, except for football season when he takes weekends off, in his home office surrounded by trees.  His home is three blocks from the Pacific Ocean in California.  He is married and has a nuclear family with six children.  His dog Hyra usually sleeps by his feet as he listens to classical CD's and writes.  Taylor admits to a 64 year writing career, as of 1999.  As of February, 1999, his next book will be an autobiography entitled Excelsior, Excelsior.  His all-time favorite book is Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath.

   My students write personal letters to "Ted" after completing The Cay.  He has always responded.   He also sends me notice of his newest releases.  The students are so thrilled to have a real author write back to them.  This year he sent each of my team's 90 students who wrote to him a personalized and autographed brochure.   Needless to say, they were thrilled.  Ted now has a website at  His assistant can be reached at Taylor can also be reached at his home address:   1856 Catalina Street in Laguna Beach, CA  92615. 

Update:  In the spring of 2000, I received a letter from Ted stating his frustration and anger over the new Random House edition of The Cay.  The jacket is not indicative of the setting, characters, and plot.  He was never consulted; in fact, he ran into it accidentally.   It is truly a marketing advantage for Random House yet an author's nightmare.  He has asked that we write to Random House in order to convince them to NOT use the same cover on the Laurel Leaf paperback, which is certain to follow.  To quote from Ted's letter to me, "It's the worst and most devious experience of my career. "                









Taylor was born in North Carolina and still thinks of himself as strongly rooted in that quiet "red clay" country by the Catawba River, though he has worked and lived in many places around the world. He began writing at the age of thirteen, covering high school sports events for the Portsmouth, Virginia, Evening Star. Leaving home at seventeen to join the Washington, D.C. Daily News as a copyboy, he discovered the highly educational aspects of living on $11 a week. "Thank God my boarding house was only a dollar a day." Two years later he was writing radio network sports for NBC, in New York.

During World War II, he first served as a cadet-AB seaman on a gasoline tanker, first of four merchant ships; then became a naval officer in the Pacific Theater. He was recalled to active duty a few months after the Korean War began.

In 1955, a year after his first book, The Magnificent Mitscher, Taylor joined Paramount Pictures as a press agent; then became a story editor, finally, associate producer. "Often exciting, often insane, film work provided opportunity to work with some interesting and unique people — Clark Gable, Henry Fonda, Frank Sinatra, Shirley MacLaine, William Holden, Steve McQueen, Charlton Heston, Raquel Welch, and others, on seventeen major pictures." Following the filming of TORA! TORA! TORA!, he turned full-time to novels, non-fiction books and screen plays.

The Cay, winner of 11 literary awards, including the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, "...of which I’m the proudest, since the book was deemed worthy of being on a shelf with Alice In Wonderland...", was a Universal film presentation starring James Earl Jones. Now in print in 14 foreign countries, the story of young "Phe-leep" and old "Timothy" has passed 4,000,000 copies in publication, worldwide.

The Maldonado Miracle and The Teetoncey Trilogy, chronicling the remote, quaint Outer Banks of North Carolina, quickly followed the success of The Cay. Among his titles are Sniper, Maria, The Hostage, The Weirdo, winner of the 1992 Edgar Allen Poe Award; Sweet Friday Island, another suspense story.

In autumn, 1993, Timothy Of The Cay, prequel-sequel to the original tale of survival and prejudice was published by Harcourt Brace. The 24-year gap between the novels was caused by Taylor’s reluctance to attempt "topping himself."

In 1946, Taylor participated in Operations Crossroads, the testing of two atomic bombs at Bikini Atoll, in the Western Pacific. Out of that experience came The Bomb, story of the world’s first nuclear nomads, published autumn, 1995. The Bomb won the 1996 Scott O’Dell Award for historical fiction.

Rogue Wave and Other Red-Blooded Sea Stories followed The Bomb. The Flight of Jesse Leroy Brown, the story of the Navy’s first Afro-American carrier pilot was published in autumn, 1998.

His adult books have covered a wide variety of subjects — a Broadway composer to Sirhan Sirhan’s assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy to the pastoral life of a Basque shepherd. The Cats of Shambala, written with actress Tippi Hedren, provided the research for Sniper. Adult fiction includes The Body Trade, The Stalker, Monocolo and To Kill the Leopard. Underway is a sequel to Monocolo.

Taylor has also ghost-written eight adult books, ranging in topic matter from ESP and hyperactive children to the autobiography of a famed Hollywood comedian.

His short stories and novelettes have appeared in Redbook, McCall’s, Ladies Home Journal, Saturday Evening Post, Argosy, Alfred Hitchcock’s Magazine and others.

His hobbies are ocean fishing and world travel. For the latter he’s joined by wife Flora, who also assists in research projects. They reside in a "house in the woods" in Laguna Beach, California. .