Biography of Theodore Taylor






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.

Theodore Taylor loved ocean fishing and world travel. For the latter he was joined by wife Flora, who also assisted in research projects. They made their residence in a "house in the woods" in Laguna Beach, California.

Theodore Taylor passed away on October 26, 2006.

Read his comments about his autobiography, Making Love to Typewriters; and the family's tribute to him. .

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