Mildred D. Taylor: Biography, Books & Facts

Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby
This lesson discusses the author Mildred D. Taylor and her books, including her award-winning book for children, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Read the lesson and take the quiz!

Writing What You Know

When you were a kid, do you remember stories that your mom, dad, or grandparents told you? These stories could range from anything to ghost tales that would have you cowering under your bed in the middle of the night, just knowing something is coming out of that closet, to stories about the cool things they did when they were your age. Mildred D. Taylor took the stories she heard from her family, and her own experiences when going to visit them, and turned them into her award-winning book series for children. Her books address racial issues in the American South from the perspective of a girl growing up as an African American in a racially tense environment in Mississippi.


Mildred DeLois Taylor was born in 1943 in Jackson, Mississippi. Her family was already wary of racially based violence in their home state, particularly in their city of Jackson, and they moved to Toledo, Ohio when Taylor was three months old. She grew up in a neighborhood of mostly white people and was one of the only African Americans at her school. Her family would travel south to see her family, and on these trips, Taylor learned about her heritage, and the stories that would influence her writing. After graduating from the University of Toledo in 1965, Taylor chose to join the Peace Corps and taught history in Ethiopia for two years.

After returning to the United States, Taylor then attended the University of Colorado for a graduate program in journalism, where she was deeply involved with African American groups and policy. After graduating, she worked with the university as part of a black studies program. Taylor married Errol Daly in 1972 and divorced in 1975. The couple have a daughter together. Taylor began to focus more on her writing, publishing her first novel in 1975, Song of the Trees. She continues to write and is now living in Colorado.

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