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.
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
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.
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 www.theodoretaylor.com.
His assistant can be reached at email@example.com.
Taylor can also be reached at his home address: 1856 Catalina Street in
Laguna Beach, CA 92615.
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.