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Joel Barlow, Anna
Huntington , Charles Ives, Mark
had roots in Redding
Written by Rachel Kirkpatrick,
Appeared in Redding
Pilot July 03. 2008
people know the name Tasha Tudor, the literary luminary who
created illustrations for at least 100 published books and
wrote several of her own, but many may not know that she spent
some of her childhood and young adult life right here in Redding.
Tudor, who died June 18 at age 92 in Marlboro, Vt., was a
young girl when she came to Redding to live with family friends,
the Mikkelsens. Her mother, portrait artist Rosamond Tudor,
sent her there to live after her divorce from inventor-designer
W. Starling Burgess, Ms. Tudor’s father.
didn’t want Tasha to grow up in New York City,” Rosamond Mikkelsen
said of Ms. Tudor’s arrival to stay with her family in Redding.
At the time, Ms. Tudor’s mother was moving to Greenwich Village
to try to make a living as a painter.
Mikkelsen, 97, still lives in the house on Wayside Lane where
her family hosted Ms. Tudor. Antiques that Ms. Tudor’s mother
gave to the family in lieu of cash to pay for her living expenses
are still around the house, she said.
remember she came with a beautiful white Persian cat,” Ms.
in Boston on Aug. 28, 1915, Ms. Tudor was christened Starling
Burgess, according to various accounts. She went by the nickname
her father gave her, Tasha, from Natasha, and later changed
her last name to Tudor, her mother’s maiden name.
had fun together, we used to go skiing,” Ms. Mikkelsen said.
Mikkelsens, a theatrical family, always performed skits and
charades at Christmastime, and Ms. Tudor participated, Ms.
was much younger than any of the rest of us, so she would
play the dog or something like that,” she said with a laugh.
Joan Ensor, Ms. Mikkelsen’s first cousin, said Ms. Tudor was
a “very sweet person, and very happy.” “We had a lovely time
with Tasha,” she said.
girls, including Ms. Ensor, Ms. Mikkelsen and Ms. Tudor, were
part of a playgroup as young girls. They formed a secret society
called the “PSO.” When asked what the initials stood for,
Ms. Ensor quipped, “Well, it’s a secret society, I can’t tell
used to meet out in the woods with a bottle of birch beer
and some cookies, and we gave plays each year,” she said.
“They got more and more sophisticated and Tasha was in most
aspired to be a dancer at that time,” Ms. Ensor added. “She
would do a curtain raiser in the form of a dance.”
one-room school Ms. Tudor attended for a short time was taught
by Ms. Ensor’s uncle, Henry Hawthorne. Ms. Tudor’s mother
eventually bought a house in Redding and started a tea room.
the very beginning, Tasha used to draw pictures all of the
time,” Ms. Mikkelsen said. “She also was very much into farming
and living in the country, and always going barefoot; she
was very much down to earth.”
mother fostered her interest in painting and illustrating,
her family said. Her first book, Pumpkin Moonshine, was published
in 1938. That same year she married the late Thomas L. McCready.
The couple lived here in Redding, where two of their four
children were born. (Tudor Road in Redding was named after
her mother sometime after 1940, said Town Historian Charles
used to see her a lot then, and her daughter, Bethany, would
come over and play with my daughter, Imogen,” Ms. Ensor said.
“We were very good friends for a long time.”
all accounts, Ms. Tudor relished the simple life, developing
an affinity for life in the 1800s. In fact, Ms. Mikkelsen
said, her friend was known for an obsession that she was really
somebody else, perhaps someone from the prior century.
Tudor has been quoted as saying, “Einstein said that time
is like a river, it flows in bends. If we could only step
back around the turns, we could travel in either direction.
I’m sure it’s possible. When I die, I’m going right back to
the 1830s. I’m not even afraid of dying. I think it must be
“remarkable” thing Ms. Mikkelsen recalled was a shirt Ms.
Tudor made for Mr. McCready “from the ground up.”
grew the flax, she spun the threads, she wove the shirt; it
was a perfectly beautiful, old-fashioned shirt,” Ms. Mikkelsen
said. “That’s the sort of thing she got into.”
royalties from Mother’s Goose, a book she illustrated that
was published in 1944, allowed Tasha and Mr. McCready to purchase
a large old farm in Webster, N.H., where their four children,
Bethany, Seth, Thomas, and Efner, were raised. “The house
lacked electricity and running water, but did have 17 rooms
and 450 acres,” Douglas Martin wrote in The New York Times
this week. Many books were written and illustrated from the
happenings during her time in this house, her family said,
such as Linsey Woolsey in 1946 and Thistly B in 1949.
went up one summer for one of the puppet shows that Tasha
did,” Ms. Ensor said. “She did these wonderful puppet shows,
and she made them herself; she wrote the stories for them,
pulled the strings, and did it on a stage in the barn.
can remember we watched these puppets for a long time in a
dark barn, and when the lights came on there were bats flying
around in the barn, and the bats looked so huge — we were
watching these puppets for a while and our whole perspective
changed; relative to the puppets, they were so large.”
1955, Life magazine reported on the “wedding” of the McCready
family dolls “Lieutenant Thaddeus Crane” and “Melissa Shakespeare,”
which took place at the McCready’s farm in New Hampshire.
The dolls were introduced to the public five year earlier
in The Dolls’ Christmas.
her divorce from Mr. McCready, who later died, and from a
second husband, Allan John Woods, she “fulfilled her dream
of living in Vermont,” her family said, and moved to Marlboro,
Vt., in 1972 to be near her son Seth Tudor. Her son built
the house using only hand tools. There she enjoyed her gardens
and having family close by, themes that inspired books such
as Springs of Joy in 1979 and A Time to Keep in 1977.
self-sufficient “1830s lifestyle” was captured in two documentaries,
The Private World of Tasha Tudor in 1992 and Take Joy! The
Magical World of Tasha Tudor in 1996.
the years, Ms. Tudor was featured in countless newspaper articles
and many magazines, her family said, including Early American
Life, Victoria, Horticulture, Better Homes and Gardens, People,
Places and Plants, and many Japanese titles. Her work has
been shown in many museums, including Conner Prairie, Abby
Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum in Colonial Williamsburg
in 1996, Pierpont Morgan Library, Norman Rockwell Museum in
2005, Henry Ford Museum, and extensively in Japan.
family business, Tasha Tudor and Family (www.tashatudorandfamily.com)
was co-founded by Ms. Tudor and her daughter-in-law Marjorie
in 1999, “over a cup of tea.” According to that site, Ms.
Tudor excelled in cooking, canning, cheese making, ice cream
making, and many other home skills.
anyone who has eaten at Tasha Tudor’s would know, her cooking
skills are unsurpassed,” it states. “She collects eggs from
her chickens in the evenings, cooks only with fresh goat’s
milk, and uses only fresh or dried herbs from her garden.”
Tudor also created hundreds of Christmas cards for the Irene
Dash Greeting Card company over a period of many years.
last book, Corgiville Christmas, in 2002, brought the number
of books written and/or illustrated by Tasha to nearly 100,
her family said. Her books have been published in Japan, Korea,
Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, and Sweden. Ms. Tudor received
many honors, though she never kept track of them, her family
said. “It is only through other sources that we know of them.”
included the Catholic Library Association’s Regina Medal,
Caldecott honors for 1 is One in 1956 and Mother Goose in
1944, and the Walter Cerf Award for Lifetime Achievements
in the Arts from the Vermont Arts Council (June 18, 2004).
favorite book of hers is the Corgiville Fair, and that was
based on the Danbury Fair,” Ms. Ensor said. “It was a Tasha’s
favorite book, too.”
Fair was published in 1971 and introduced everyone to the
wonderful, idiosyncratic world of the corgi dog, the family’s
Web site states. Ms. Tudor kept Welsh corgis for many years.
have her advent calendar, which is delightful. It’s full of
humor and rampaging raccoons and mice in the cellar; she had
a wonderful sense of humor which came out especially in her
early books like that of the Corgiville Fair,” Ms. Ensor said.
“That was full of humor and wit, just delightful.”
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