A brother to four sisters, Taylor was born on June 23, 1921 in Statesville, North Carolina. His father and mother appeared to be total opposites, he short and muscular, she slender and delicate. Yet together they provided for and raised their children. At a young age Taylor got his library card and read voraciously, devouring children's books with action and adventure before checking out adult books with suspense and mystery. When he wasn't reading, he was exploring the outdoors. His mother believed that the Lord would guide Taylor home safely, and thereby didn't limit his freedom to roam. Books and adventure didn't buy food, and because his father wasn't working much during the Depression, Taylor delivered papers and sold candy.
Full-time employment for his father at the Norfolk Navy yard brought a change of location. The family moved to Cradock, Virginia, and Taylor fulfilled his dream of being close to water. He also began writing in high school with encouragement from his English teacher. This helped him when he was offered a position at the Portsmouth Star writing a sports column. Not much of a reporter, Taylor gained tremendous experience from the sports editor and the staff, which served him well when he landed a job at the Washington Daily News.
Working his way up from the bottom, Taylor advanced and his career took off. He returned to Virginia to run the sports department, cover general news, and report on World War II. Then Taylor moved to New York City to be the scriptwriter for Bill Stern, a radio sportscaster. Times were changing and Taylor enlisted in the Merchant Marines as part of the naval reserve. He served in both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, meeting his first wife in San Francisco.
After the war, Taylor moved from one writing job to another, not knowing exactly what he wanted to do. Deciding he worked best at nonfictional reporting, he began penning pieces for magazines. But his attempts at fiction garnered him rejection slips. With the Korean War, Taylor returned to the navy and while at the Pentagon, he filled in for a writer who couldn't keep his contract to write a biography on Admiral Marc Andrew Mitscher. Taylor's writing on nights and weekends failed to impress E.P. Dutton publishers, and they expected him to return the $500 they'd given to him in advance. Desperate, Taylor took his time with editing and rewriting, and showed the work to W.W. Norton, who published The Magnificent Mitscher.
Taylor followed this book with a job as a press agent and publicist for Paramount Pictures, researched another book, penned screenplays, made seventeen documentary films, and wrote stories for magazines. It wasn't until 1966 that Taylor decided to write for children. Responding to his own children's curiosity, Taylor penned People Who Make Movies. Surprised at the positive response, Taylor began The Cay, which achieved tremendous success and attention. Criticism came years later. Taylor wrote a couple more screenplays and continued penning books for children, including the "Cape Hatteras" trilogy.
Before his death from a heart attack on October 26, 2006, this award-winning author and respected historian had written over fifty books for adults and children and penned numerous articles, short stories, novelettes, and screen plays during his 64-year writing career.
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