The day I met Tasha Tudor

My first recollection of Tasha Tudor was from 4th grade reading hour. My teacher, bless her heart, took time each day to read a book aloud to us. One of the books she read was A Secret Garden which was illustrated by artist Tasha Tudor. My life was changed forever!

I remember that I loved the illustrations, and many years later when I had children, I read this same book to them during our evening reading time. I was fascinated by Tasha, who I heard led an idyllic life, living her life like she was in the 1830’s, gardening in her vintage Vermont home, surrounded by her herd of corgis. I felt a kinship with her because I, too, always felt that I was living in the wrong century.

One day during a family outing to Deep River, Connecticut, a few towns away from where I lived at the time, we were rummaging through the shops. We happened upon a small bookstore which seemed to have only the best hand-picked titles. A book caught my eye called Drawn From New England by Bethany Tudor. I had to buy the book, which was written by one of Tasha’s daughters. What a treasure! It chronicled their lives through family photos. I reread this book many times, thinking about how Tasha lived only a few hours from where I lived, somewhere tucked away from civilization.

A year or so later I was visiting one of my favorite haunts, an 1830’s replica town called Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. There I could go back in time to a place that felt familiar to me. This day I saw 2 women walking on the center commons who were dressed in the garb of the era. At first I thought that they were docents. Then I looked again and decided that one of them was Tasha. But I was not sure of it. I could not let this opportunity go by. It took a lot of courage for me as I approached the ladies.

I was not quite sure what to say, so I said, You look a lot like Tasha Tudor. 

To which the woman said, People are always telling me so.

Well, I felt embarrassed at what I perceived was my obvious mistake and told her that I was sorry.

At that point the other woman said to her, Fess up now.

Well you could have knocked me over with a feather! Now I felt even more embarrassed that I had missed out on her dry humor!

Tasha was gracious and we exchanged some conversation. But how I wished that it could have played out differently, as I surely did not have anything useful to say. That one in a million chance happened to me, but I was in another dimension altogether in the presence of this mischievous goddess! I wanted to tell her all about how she inspired me and how akin I felt to her. So my glorious moment left me feeling wanting.

Several years ago Tasha finally passed on. She is quoted as saying that she was not afraid of death, and that she thought that it was quite exciting. And that when she died she would go right back to the 1830’s.

So, if that is true, perhaps I might just get another chance to relive a moment in time. And this time when we meet I will be ready for her mischief…

Yes— you DO look a lot like her! 

~ Karen

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40 thoughts on “The day I met Tasha Tudor

    • linda, i certainly enjoy my life and studio in this time. so i agree that i do also feel blessed to have both memories. i would like to bring those feelings i get from the other century into my life today by making things by hand, gardening, and having antiques.

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      • *****many years ago…well about twenty, my wife and i were invited to tea at
        corgi cottage in mid winter. a former patient of mine was a friend of tasha’s and i begged for an introduction. once there it was magical…i’m not a groupie
        but as far as tasha tudor was concerned…yes! the serenity was so intense that you could almost hear the snow falling outside. months later when she
        had another litter of corgi’s we were offered a very sweet little female who
        lived a very happy life with us for many years. tasha’s dream was to return to ipswich as a sea captain’s wife from 1800-1840…we live about twelve miles
        northeast of there in a sea captain’s house from 1730. someday we will all
        meet again in that special place “east of vermont and west of new hampshire!” thanks very much for sharing your experience with tasha and
        we belong to old sturbridge village…another magical place. tom

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  1. It was back in the early 90’s when I first learned about Tasha. My boys were very young and we raised Corgi’s. I had to collect her books since there were corgi’s in all her paintings. I once sent her a note to let her know how much we enjoyed her books and she sent us a card back wishing us a happy Easter. What a joy that was. What a joy it must have been to meet her! She was a very special lady!!!! ~Victoria~

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  2. Good Morning Karen…
    I grew up in the Guilford area of Connecticut…I have visited Old Lyme, Deep River, Pomfret and many other quaint, small towns there, many, many times..one of my favorite things to do was ride the ferry over the river to Gillette’s Castle and ride the train there….many journies taken to Sturbridge, where I could slip back to a time that was so familiar to me ~ sitting on the same green that you mentioned in your post, with my camera & sketchbook close-at-hand, the smell of the woodsmoke and faint sound of the cows out to pasture….oh how I miss my beloved New England!

    I have every book that Tasha ever illustrated. I have every book that was ever written about her, and cherish her simple writing and delicate artist’s hand.

    I do believe you & I are indeed Kindred Souls!

    Thanks so much for the post and for the brief walk down memory lane!!
    Blessed be,
    Lori

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    • yes, lori, we indeed are kindreds. i remember when we first were in contact you had just moved away from guilford. that was the town where i lived and raised my boys. i am so homesick! here is a dream: meeting at OSV, dress in old garb, and take a day to step back in time. wouldn’t that be wonderful?

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  3. wonderful post – Karen. such beautiful photographs! as a child Tasha Tudor books were my favourite. I could not get enough. History was always one of my best subjects – I always wondered what people’s daily home life was like. I think I would have loved the simplicity of life then, although at times hard. Thank you for brightening an otherwise very dull grey day! Joni

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    • hi joni, yes, i too think it was a hard living. just think about having to garden because that is all you had to eat? but then, perhaps it was more rewarding to succeed? thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  4. A lovely post, thank you. I love Sturbridge Village and I went there as a child. thanks for the memories of that time. Just sitting here wondering if it is open this time of year and how long would it take to get there from Brooklyn. Funny.

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  5. It appears that several of us have the feeling we were from another time and place, and I too have had that same feeling when I go back to my mother’s home in New London, New Haven, and Niantic, CT. The sensation of “I’ve lived here before or I’m Home” overwhelms my soul.. I love the area and long to be back there often.

    Spiritual connections to a person or place is awesome if the person is open to that experience. One has to have an open mind and soul to embrace that connection. I have had this type of spiritual pleasure with New England and only with couple of friends. For this, I feel truly blessed.

    Thank you for bringing the awareness of Tasha’s spirit to everyone. I too am a fan of hers!

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  6. I too love “The Secret Garden” and Tasha Tudor. Ms Tudor was very supportive of the Herb Society of America. When I was president of the Tidewater Unit in Va Bch, I attended the national meeting in Ithaca. Tasha had created a wonderful print of a cottage and herb garden. The HSA sold the limited number prints as a fund raiser for the Society. I treasure my print and enjoy seeing it every day. I am new to your blog, but think I will really enjoy it.

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  7. Aside from rug hooking, we have this in common, too! My friend, Martha, was a friend of Tasha Tudor and when Tasha came to the Cincinnati Garden Show quite a few years ago as the featured guest, Martha was helping run the booth where they were selling Tasha Tudor books and prints. The day got very busy and after Tasha’s lecture, Martha asked if I help work the booth, since I had done shows for years! Of course, I was thrilled to do that ~ it left my poor husband to see the Garden Show on his own ~ and the great reward was that Tasha invited us to have a private meeting with her while she was taking tea!! What a thrill that was, Karen ~ I know exactly how you felt that day ~ a day you’ll always treasure!! Thanks for rekindling the memory!

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  8. I love Tasha Tudor. For those who don’t know there is a wonderful video starring Tasha Tudor called “Take Joy”. Filmed her house and gardens, it gives you a magical peek into her private life. Very intriguing and entertaining. She was still driving at the time too! Really, the film is a definite must-see.

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    • yes, and the other is called Take Peace, which centers around the christmas holidays. both are truly wonderful. thanks, lisa, for adding that. i have both of these, however i haven’t been able to watch my dvds as i feel so blue about her passing.

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  9. Karen,
    I’m sure that you don’t remember me, but I took a class from you in Los Angeles. I, too, am a huge Tasha Tudor fan. I have all of her books and DVDs. I often put one of the DVDs on while rug hooking or cross-stitching. Even her voice inspires relaxation. A few years ago I bought a doll house from the 1890’s and met with one of the curators at Williamsburg, where the Abby Aldrich Museum houses her original dollhouse. I used the photos of her dollhouse and the information that I got from the curator to help design the one that I re-did. I thought you might enjoy seeing some pictures of mine. These are early photos right after the renovations, but I have managed to find even more things that are similar to hers, such as a bearskin rug and a rifle for the fireplace. I didn’t make my own dolls, but they are artist carved dolls who inhabit the dollhouse.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/117007578224576839527/CranberryManor

    She was an amazing and inspirational woman.
    Becca

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  10. Dear Karen, Thank you for your well told story. Sounds exactly accurate! I don’t know if you’ve heard, but we’ve opened a non-profit Museum in Tasha’s honor and our latest exhibit For the Love of Frocks: Tasha’s Favourite Dresses, opens May 4th. http://www.tashatudormuseum.org for more info. Thanks again for this post. ~Amy Tudor

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    • amy, what a wonderful surprise to get your comment, it touches me deeply to have you stop by and affirm my story. the tasha tudor museum sounds so right, as tasha lives on in the hearts of so many of us who want to continue her memory and her spirit of life. thank you for your part in that. it will be my goal to visit the museum when i am back home. fondly, karen

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  11. Well, I too grew up in Connecticut! We lived in Salisbury in the very northwest corner of the state. And my father lived for a while in Eugene until he decided that it did not make sense to live a continent away from his children and he moved back to Salisbury for the last years of his life. This Friday I am heading back to Connecticut to visit family and to attend the ATHA workshop in Litchfield. I’ll say hello for you. I find that it remains my environmental home base. Ever thought of combining a trip to Connecticut with the ATHA workshop?

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  12. Wonderful post, Karen. I wonder just how many lives Tasha touched. She was such an inspiration to me and finally I am living simply (off grid) and love every minute of it. I just received my Tasha Tudor newsletter today in the mail so what a pleasant surprise to find your post then about her. Just one of those “unexplained” coinsidences! Take joy….take peace my friend.

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    • living off grid! good for you. i would love to know more about that. and as for getting your tt newsletter today, i do believe in synchronisties such as these. i am sure that it was synchronistic that i met tasha that day. thank you for connecting with me.

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  13. My eldest daughter and I are longtime Tasha Tudor fans! Her print, Blue Cupboard, hangs in my den. And because of her, my granddaughter has her very own, feisty corgi, Max, who is a little Napoleon bossing the Saint Bernard, the labradoodle, and the Great Pyranees mix who are all much larger than he!

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  14. I’m with you on both Tasha Tudor and fully believing I was plunked into the wrong century. We live in a straw bale home in the mountains, off the grid, where I have spent years weaving, spinning, dyeing, knitting and just about anything else related to fiber. My husband, who recently retired, is mr. electronics, so I feel like my brief “life” in the 1800s has been totally eclipsed by the changes. I’ve had to learn that I must go to those places in my head and as you do, create an environment that conjures those feelings also. That’s one of the reasons I love your work and your blog, sharing your space and home with us…it takes me to a wonderful time that isn’t fraught with computer noises, telephones, flat panel televisions and the like. Thanks for inspiring me.

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  15. I, too, love Tasha Tudor. If only I were brave enough to live my life as freely and as fully as she lived hers! I never had occasion to meet her. I did, however, experience some of the romance of life in the 1830’s when my husband and I were costumed volunteers at Old Sturbridge Village. It’s a wonderful place, and I’m so happy to hear that you’ve visited there! You, Karen, remind me of Tasha Tudor. You see beauty in the world that’s around you and, through your craft, add a little bit more. Thanks so much for sharing it with all of us!

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  16. I grew up in New Hampshire and met Tasha as a little girl. She shooed a rabbit off the sofa so I could sit and wait while my father conducted some business with her. She later gave dad a copy of Alexander the Gander because he had some “pet” geese. I wish I still had that book but I do have many others. In June I took a friend along to visit the museum, hear Winslow speak about Tasha and her gardens, and for a wonderful tour of Corgi Cottage and the beautiful gardens. It was like a dream to walk in her footsteps and feel like you had stepped into one of her paintings. The family was so welcoming and patient with all the “star-struck” fans. I too watch the videos and reread the books and am actively collecting more Tasha items and memories. The Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, NY will have a Tasha exhibit from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31 and I hope to go. The tashatudorandfamily website is a great source of information and merchandise. I especially like Winslow’s tea stories and the Rookery Ramblings. Tuesday, August 28th is a day to celebrate Tasha with a cup of tea and fond memories. Take Joy!

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