Taylor Caldwell: Biography, Books & Quotes

Instructor: Summer Stewart

Summer has taught creative writing and sciences at the college level. She holds an MFA in Creative writing and a B.A.S. in English and Nutrition

Taylor Caldwell, an English-born American author, wrote countless novels during her career. She wrote fictional family sagas during the twentieth century. In this lesson, we learn all about her life, her career, and some of her most popular books.

Who Was Taylor Caldwell?

Taylor Caldwell's husband destroyed 140 of her unpublished novels during their marriage! Talk about a serious bummer, since Caldwell was an incredibly reputable novelist during her career. Despite this travesty, Caldwell persisted and continued to write novels that would become household names throughout her career and beyond. Taylor Caldwell was an American author who wrote serial fiction that repeatedly hit bestseller lists. Some of her best-known works were Dynasty of Death, Captains and the Kings, and her posthumous novella, Unto All Men. She was a staunch conservative who had no problem telling the world what she believed in and how others should behave. Caldwell wrote under a pen name at her editor's request to avoid discrimination against the fact that she was a female writer. In this lesson, we will take the time to get to know Taylor Caldwell.

Biography of Taylor Caldwell

Early Life

Janet Miriam Holland Taylor Caldwell was born on September 7, 1900 in Manchester, England. Her family immigrated to the United States when she was just seven years old. At age twelve, she wrote her first novel, titled The Romance of Atlantis. When she tried to have it published, she was accused of plagiarism because she was deemed too young to have written such a marvelous story. She held onto the book and published it as an adult.

After serving in the Navy, she worked for the New York State Department of Labor and the United States Department of Justice. During this time, she met and married her first husband, William F. Combs. They had a daughter named Mary, but their marriage didn't last, and they divorced in 1931. She earned her Bachelor's from the University of Buffalo in the same year. She wrote during these years, but didn't produce anything substantial. She remarried in 1932 to Marcus Reback.

Career

Caldwell's writing career took off when she published Dynasty of Death in 1938. After the book's immediate success, Caldwell began writing for nearly ten hours every day. Of her ambitions, she said, ''I wanted to acquire an education, work extremely hard and never deviate from my goal, to make it.'' Her efforts resulted in the publishing dozens of novels during her lifetime. Taylor Caldwell wrote historical fiction that explored themes such as family, money, power, love, and class. Many of her books were family sagas, which are elaborate and long stories that chronicle the stories of the characters within the families; sometimes these stories took several books to complete.

Caldwell had hundreds of completed manuscripts in her home, but her success wasn't admired at home, and she said, ''I have been the victim of heartless malice.'' It turns out that her husband, Marcus Reback, was said to have destroyed at least 140 of her books prior to his death in 1970.

In 1975, The Romance of Atlantis, the novel she tried to publish as a young girl, was released by Fawcett Publications. The story is about the lost civilization of Atlantis and an arranged marriage between the queen and another country.

Later Life and Death

Taylor Caldwell's health began to decline in 1979 when she had a stroke that left her mute. In her old age, she said, ''My literary success meant nothing to me,'' which was apparent since she became more of a recluse in her older age. Between 1979 and 1985, Caldwell maintained her writing, publishing one novel, Answer As a Man, before her death in 1985.

Books

Dynasty of Death

Dynasty of Death was published in 1938 and was co-written with Caldwell's husband Marcus Reback. The book launched Caldwell's career. The story is about two American families who start with a small armory and grow it into a booming business. Both families have multiple generations involved, which contributes to conflicts about money, power, and doing good. The story takes place during the years prior to World War I.

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