Illustrator Tasha Tudor dead at 92

June 19, 2008 3:33:42 PM PDT
Children's book illustrator Tasha Tudor, whose whimsical drawings of country outings, gardens and family life in rural New England echoed her own picturesque lifestyle, has died. She was 92. Tudor, who illustrated such classics as "Little Women" and "The Secret Garden," died Wednesday at her home, surrounded by her family and friends, according to a statement posted on her Web site. Her death was confirmed by Atamaniuk Funeral Home in Brattleboro, which was handling the arrangements.

"She was ahead of her time, but she lived in the past," said Jill Adams-Mancivalano, a longtime friend.

Tudor, who quit school after eighth grade, wrote or collaborated on nearly 100 children's books after making her debut with "Pumpkin Moonshine" in 1938. Besides "The Secret Garden," she illustrated "The Night Before Christmas" and wrote books of her own, including "Corgiville Fair."

Her home in this southern Vermont town was a replica of a 19th-century New England homestead, replete with antique utensils, tiny windows and doorways of varying sizes. In later life, she burnished her reputation among fans with her gardening, weaving and sewing exploits.

She made her own clothing - fashioned after 19th-century apparel - and raised Nubian goats for their milk.

Adams-Mancivalano, whose family farm in nearby Wilmington hosted open-to-the-public birthday parties and other events in which Tudor held forth with fans, called her a witty, engaging homebody who loved to insert friends, family members and little details of her own life into her work.

"Just to watch her draw - the detail and the whimsy that she had in her later life was just incredible. I asked her about that one time, how her work has evolved, and her comment to me was, 'Well, my eyesight is starting to fail, and I don't have the perfection I used to,' so she'd add more stuff."

Her family said an online memorial on her Web site was open for fans to share their feelings and memories of her. The address is www.tashatudorandfamily.com.

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