If you Google search for ‘author Peter Taylor’, you’ll find there are many of us who share the same name, though we don’t all write for children…and some Peter Taylors who have been authors are no longer alive. I prefer publishers to include my middle initial – Peter E. Taylor – to try to avoid confusion, but it rarely works.
I was born in Hitchin, in Hertfordshire, England.
When I was old enough to crawl, I was introduced to the wonderful world of gardens and spent many happy hours eating dirt and wriggly things. Then I graduated to playing with dirt and every living thing I could find, making up stories and living in my own imaginary world.
Exploring the countryside and wild places, designing gardens, painting and photographing plants and animals, illuminating manuscripts with plant trails and bugs, and writing books and stories about imaginary worlds have all become lifelong passions.
I haven’t always been a professional writer. I originally trained as an ecologist and educator, then completed courses on printmaking, papermaking and bookbinding at art colleges, and learned calligraphy through the Society of Scribes and Illuminators in London and from world renowned experts. Among these was ‘The Queen’s Scribe’, Donald Jackson.
In former lives I was employed as a natural history curator in a museum, a nature reserve warden and high-school science, photography and art teacher.
I emigrated ‘Down-Under’ in 1982 and now live in Stafford Heights, a suburb of Brisbane – the Australian state of Queensland’s capital city. Here, I met my wife, and our son an daughter are now adults.
In 1986 I left my teaching post to write and illustrate The Australian Manual of Calligraphy for publisher Allen and Unwin. Fortunately, it went to several re-prints and was also published by HarperCollins/Unwin Hyman in the UK and New Zealand as A Manual of Calligraphy. At the same time, I started a book-arts business, Peter Taylor’s Calligraphics, specialising in calligraphy, illumination, papermaking, creative card and artist’s book construction, and in teaching the skills involved. My calligraphy focused website is https://ptcalligraphy.com. One handmade and handwritten book was presented to Her Majesty the Queen as part of her gift from World Expo’88, and many other prestigious commissions have come my way over the years.
Other books have followed, along with winning a prize in the Wergle Flomp competition for humorous poems. One of the books, Once a Creepy Crocodile, was Shortlisted for the 2015 Book of the Year Award by Australian speech pathologists. It’s a picture book illustrated by Nina Rycroft and published by Bonnier/The Five Mile Press with a CD inclusion of the text sung to the tune of Waltzing Matilda (not by me),
When my children were small, I loved making up stories for them and I realised that in all jobs I’ve ever had, I’ve always loved the writing part in particular – museum guides, unusual natural-history facts, simplified science texts and more…so, in 1998, I studied for a Diploma in Professional Children’s Writing.
After years of further developing my writing craft, I became the Coordinator of the Queensland Branch of SCBWI, the 25,000 international member strong Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. I’ve also been a Newsletter Editor and Committee Member of CBCA – the Children’s Book Council of Australia and helped to establish Write Links. I now spend most of my working life writing and creating books and, at every opportunity, public speaking, visiting schools and giving workshops. In this photo I’m demonstrating on the Australian Publishers’ Association stand at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy.
I hope that my passion for books, writing and reading is infectious, and I now add ‘helping people to create their own books’ to my list of enthusiasms.
PS My great-grandfather was a literary man, but was considered eccentric. My grandparents were ‘free-spirits’. Writing about family, friends, neighbours and acquaintances is one of the most valuable things anyone can do. How I wish that more in my family had written about their lives and experiences – and you can’t start too young. And it’s fun. In my talks and workshops I can offer suggestions to get people enthused and started.
I’m going to call my family history ‘My Family and Other Lunatics’. You can read about some of them by clicking on this link.