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Gladys Taber at Stillmeadow
, beloved author of
books, columnist for "
Ladies Home Journal
", an editor of the magazine from 1946-1958, and columnist for "
", was born in on April 2, 1899,
, Colorado, and died March 11, 1980, in Hyannis, Massachusetts.Tthe author of 50 books, both fiction and nonfiction, she is most well known for her meditative series about "Stillmeadow", her small farmhouse home in Southbury, Connecticut, about the life she lived there and the nature she observed around her . Before her death she contributed more than 200 stories to periodicals in the United States and abroad. She was also the author of books on flower arranging and cooking, such as
My Own Cookbook
The Early Years
The daughter of Rufus Mather and Grace Sibyl (Raybold) Bagg, Gladys Taber spent most of her early years moving because of her father's work as a mining engineer. She credited all the moving in her early years to her wanting to be in just one place in her latter ones. Her growing years were spent in in
, California, Illinois, Wisconsin, and on her grandfather's farm in Massachusetts. A large part of her early life was spent in Appleton, Wisconsin, where her father worked in his latter years as a geology professor at Lawrence College. She wrote about her father and those days later in her book
She received her bachelor's degree from Wellesley College in Wakefield, Massachusetts in 1920 , and and her M.A. from Lawrence College in 1921. She also studied for a graduate degree at Columbia University from 1931-1933.
After marrying Frank Albion Taber, a music professor, and later a music dean, she taught briefly at Randolph Macon Woman's college in Lynchburg, Virginia. She was a teacher of English there from 1925-1926, and later an instructor in creative writing at Columbia University, from 1936-1943. She was a free-lance writer from 1932-1980.
Mrs. Taber in her kitchen
Southbury and Stillmeadow
Most of Mrs. Taber's writing was done from her vintage 1690
farmhouse, where she also commuted to New York part of the time to teach
Prior to becoming a fulltime writer, she was most well known for being an editor and columnist at
Ladies Home Journal
magazine ("Diary of Domesticity") and later in
magazine ("Butternut Wisdom"), for over 40 years. She and her then husband bought “Stillmeadow” with her best friend from college Eleanor Mayer (Jill) and Eleanor Mayer's husband because both couples felt New York was no place to bring up healthy children. Although keeping up the farmhouse took up just about every penny she earned, Ms. Taber never regretted the decision and wrote about the happiness she found there and shared it with the world.
After Mrs. Taber and her husbands separated , and after Mrs. Mayer's husband, a psychiatrist, died, both women continued to live at Stillmeadow where they raised Mrs. Taber's only daughter, Constance Ann (Mrs. Curtis Colby) and Mrs. Mayer's son and daughter David and Barbara
, a bevy of cocker spaniels and Irish Setters. In the latter years of her life, Mrs. Taber lived in East Orleans on the Cape, in a house called Still Cove. The peace and serenity she looked for and found at home and in the natural world around her was a constant theme.
Friends during her life
Eleanor Mayer, her friend, was important in her own right as a Social Work supervisor for the city of New York City. She and her psychiatrist husband, Max, were friends of Freud and Otto Rank. Mrs. Mayer was a judge of dog shows and a professional photographer.
Among their other friends were Faith Baldwin, from Norwalk, also a writer for women's magazines, most famous for her article entitled "The Open Door". She was an author of 100 books,three of which were made into Hollywood movies. Her father had been a missionary doctor in China and she had lived there.
Other friends of Mrs. Taber were the singing cowboy, Smiley Burnett, Barbara Webster, also a Wellesley classmate, whose husband Ed Shenton, frequently illustrated Mrs. Taber's work, and the illustrator of the
comic series, Ted Keys, as well as the person who played Hazel on TV, Shirley Booth.. Mrs. Taber collaborated with Barbara Webster on
Stillmeadow to Sugarbridge
, a series of letters back and forth from the places they loved, in 1953. Barbara Webster wrote about her own farmhouse in Pennsylvania.
Critics almost unanimously praised Mrs. Taber for her homespun humor and wisdom. A
reviewer, once likened reading one of Gladys Taber's books to "a hearth side visit with a wise and understanding friend." Millicent Taylor of the
Christian Science Monitor
spoke of her "descriptive bits rich in a beauty that awakes appreciation, and lauded her for "filling her life each day with what really matters and looking ahead, not behind."
Friends of Gladys Taber
Formed shortly after her death, the Friends of Gladys Taber was formed by a fan, Margaret Ordnoff, who began publishing a newletter. This group continues until the present time, meets annually, honors Mrs. Taber, attempts to keep her work in print, introduce others to it, and meets to discuss her life and her work. The group, sometimes numbering 400 women and men around the world, view Mrs. Taber as their favorite author and one whose way of life and view of the world are something to emulate. They have been meeting annually at places associated with her birth, early childhood and adult years to study and discuss the influences on her life and to celebrate both her fictional and nonfiction works. Yearly visitors appear in Southbury and approach the Southbury Library to find out if "Stillmeadow " still exists.
Anne Colby at Stillmeadow Today
The Friends of Gladys Taber formed shortly after the author's death because with all the rapid changes in the publishing industry, the “Friends" wanted to make sure that Ms. Taber’s books remain in print for the next generation and that others, who may not have heard of her, will be introduced to her work. They also want to make sure that Stillmeadow, Ms. Taber’s affectionate name for the house she lived in and loved in Southbury, and which is presently being inhabited by one of her granddaughters, might be kept in the state she lived in and that the land that surrounds it be kept in the state it was during Mrs. Taber's time. One of Mrs. Taber's granddaughter's Anne, has recently had the property surrounding Stillmeadow be named as a historic property. Other “Friends” groups have been successful in such endeavors both in the US and in Europe and Canada.
The most recent national meeting of of the group was held in Wakefield, MA, June 19-21,2009.where Wellesley is located. Wellesley is where Mrs. Taber earned her bachelor’s degree with honors in 1920, when it was still only a female college. A campus tour was led by Assistant Professor John Rhodes, who evoked the essence of the era when Gladys Taber studied at Wellesley, through a discussion of the architecture and landscape and their influence on the philosophy of the college during the years 1916-1920. The landscape architects felt the landscape and natural surroundings with lots of hills, would require the girls who attended the school, to exercise their bodies while walking to classes and that the natural world around them would be an inspiration to them. It was just this inspiration in nature that Mrs. Taber wrote about in her Stillmeadow books.
This year's presentations included talks by one of Gladys Taber’s granddaughters, Anne Colby, a professional violinist, as well as several neighbors of Mrs. Taber when she lived in Southbury, CT. A letter was read from Mrs. Taber’s daughter, Constance Colby, also a writer and professor, who was unable to attend. Through a silent auction, the group raised money for a permanent memorial to Mrs. Taber, to be installed at Wellesley College. Bricks in honor of Mrs. Taber and the first women to establish the group, and to keep the quarterly magazine going, such as Gilbertine Moore of Kentucky, and Margaret Ordnoff, line the walk to the Southbury Library.
One of Mrs. Taber's most noted quotes is: ‘Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, but learning to dance in the rain.’ She had her own share of ups and downs; her husband, who was a dean of a music school became deaf. They later divorced and she remained at Stillmeadow with Eleanor, whose psychiatrist husband, had died. The two of them lived a peaceful and happy life raising prize-winning cocker spaniels that Ms. Taber wrote about in books like
. Mrs. Taber was given a lifetime membership in the Cocker Spaniel club because of all of her work with this breed. After Jill’s death, she wrote one of the best books about dealing with bereavement,
Ms. Taber’s nonfiction was a series of meditational essays following the calendar month. Her fiction, which is lesser known, was about the boys she and her friends knew in college that they sent to the First World War to have their heads blown off, and later the factory boys and girls during the Second World War. She was even asked to write a book by the government, a fiction book, called
Nurse in Blue
. Few other writers wrote stories, or at least few one hears of, about those who fought the war at home, who courageously waited while others fought. Many of the women of those times gave others something to come home to.
Mrs. Taber lived during two world wars, the Great Depression, raised most of her own food during those times, and yet lived and wrote about the joys and hopes she still felt. She wrote:"I have moments when I am frightened, as one must be, reading about the intolerance and hate that sucks men down in a swampy muck. There are plenty of such things to sicken the heart, and it is only realistic to face them. But then I count the other people, the friendly folk, and I am comforted, and I have hope. When I watch the June dusk and see the sky glow with the color of moonstone, and hear a farm wagon creaking down the shadowy road, I know how beautiful the earth is. Someday the sky will be as quiet all over the earth, and the sound of folk going home for supper will replace the roar of guns.’”
In addition to their annual meeting, the Friends of Gladys Taber also publishes a quarterly journal on various aspects of Mrs. Taber's writings and life, and has regional and state meetings.
For information on joining the Friends of Gladys Taber, send an email to:
Bibliography by Publication Date:
1925/8 Lady of the Moon
1934 Late Climbs the Sun
1935 Tomorrow May Be Fair
1937 The Evergreen Tree
1938 Long Tails and Short
1938 A Star to Steer By
1938 This Is For Always
1940 Harvest at Stillmeadow
1944 The Heart Has April Too
1944 Give Us This Day
1944 Nurse in Blue
1945/9 Especially Spaniels
1945 Give Me the Stars
1946 The Family on Maple Street
for the American Home
1947/51 Stillmeadow Kitchen
1948 The Book of Stillmeadow
1948 Daisy and Dobbin, Two Little Seahorses
1949 Especially Father
1949 The First Book of Dogs
1950 The First Book of Cats
1950 Stillmeadow Seasons
1952 When Dogs Meet People
1953 Stillmeadow and Sugarbridge
1955 Stillmeadow Daybook
1957 Mrs. Daffodil
1958 What Cooks at Stillmeadow
1959 Spring Harvest
1959 Stillmeadow Sampler
1962 The Stillmeadow Road
1963 Another Path
1965 Stillmeadow Cook Book
1966 One Dozen and One
1967 Stillmeadow Calendar
1968 Especially Dogs
1969 A Book to Begin on Flower Arranging
1969 Stillmeadow Album
1970 Amber, A Very Personal Cat
1970 Reveries at Stillmeadow
1971 My Own Cape Cod
1972 My Own Cook Book
1974 Country Chronicle
1976 Harvest of Yesterdays
1976 The Best of Stillmeadow
1977 Letters of Inspiration
1978 Conversations With Amber
1981 Still Cove Journal
References: Another Path by Gladys Taber, Southbury Writer's Group, Friends of Gladys Taber, and
January 1, 2004, Thomas Gale.
Further reading about the author:
New York Times
, March 10, 1940, Ocotober 9, 1955, March 12, 1980.
New York Herald Tribune Book Review
, December 6, 1953, January 1, 1956.
Christian Science Monitor
, August 27, 1959, June 28, 1962.
Chicago Sunday Tribune
, September 6, 1959, June 2, 1962.
Family Circle, April, 1969.
, July 15, 1971.
Obituaries and other sources:
New York Times
, March 12, 1988;
, March 14, 1980,
AB Bookman's Weekly
, April 14, 1980,
, April 25, 1980.
Retrieved from "
American women writers
Unreferenced BLPs from October 2009
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