When I heard the news that Tasha Tudor, the beloved children’s author and illustrator, had passed away peacefully last week, surrounded by family and friends, it was a bittersweet moment. I felt as though I’d lost a dear friend even though I’d never met her. Certainly, to me, she was a kindred spirit if ever there was one. A touch stone; with a long career of artistic and creative accomplishments I still find astonishing. It’s been hard getting used to the idea that someone is gone, when it seems like they’ve been around forever. At 92, I guess she had been, really.
Over the years, I’ve managed to collect only a few T.T. books from the estimated one hundred titles that she either wrote or illustrated (or both), an accomplishment in itself, as many were small runs, are now long out of print, and it seems, still very much in demand. I love them all, but I think my favorite is the one written by her daughter, Bethany Tudor, entitled, 'Drawn From New England' (1979). It’s a sweet and sincere biography, sprinkled with family photos, sketches, and stories of her mother; a free-spirited artist whose life and work combined to create a magical world for her children and a highly individual lifestyle for herself. I picked it up and read it again over the weekend, smiling at pictures taken so long ago and remembering little details I’d forgotten. Like how she often used her own children as models for the illustrations in her books. How she struggled in the early days, raising her family of four children, while pursuing an art career ("to keep the wolf from the door"), while living in a century-old farmhouse without running water or central heating, and not because she had no choice, but because it was her choice.
The life she created and shared through her own creativity influenced me so much. I’m quite sure it led me to explore the road less traveled, to remain true to myself, and to take joy and peace in everything around me. Her message was a gentle one, and I’ll always be grateful for her influence. Here she is with her beloved Corgi pups that never left her side. They were often the subject of stories and a popular recurring theme in her illustrations for children.
For example this one, and the sketch she added to the print when she signed it in 1996. I'll cherish this forever. And a few others.
I was thrilled to find this book: 'All For Love' (1984). It's a collection of poems, songs, letters and stories "enchantingly illustrated" in classic Tasha style with old-fashioned portraits of couples, children, pets, and adorable animals wrapped in flowery frames and be-ribboned borders, with bouquets & tussie-mussies scattered about the pages. There's a section describing the family Tudor Valentine celebrations with recipes for cake and cookies, and some craft activities to beat the band. In case you don't know, I'm talking about those famous cupcake fairs! The directions for making the little "shops" are also included in the book.
I'm behind on so many things and never expressed my pleasure (here) about the revival of Victoria magazine, but am finally mentioning it now, to note the beautiful feature article in the premiere issue (Nov/Dec 2007), showcasing a few of the amazing antique party dresses and ball gowns from Tasha's exquisite collection. (These were later exhibited and sold at public auction. I guess it was time to let them go.) Tasha was quoted as saying, “My antique clothing is a great folly of mine…I myself feel much more at home in an old frock. There’s no feeling of dressing up; they just feel right.” Still, she is a vision of loveliness (above), posing in costume, about 30 years ago. Blueberry Cottage and all sorts mentioned T.T. and shared links and a little more background. Maybe others have done so as well. Please leave a comment and link back to your page if you found or have something to add or share. If you're a fan, I say we declare this Tasha Tudor week...to honor this great lady; her life, her art, her craft and of course, corgi cottage!