Mildred D. Taylor was born in Jackson, Mississippi. She grew up in Ohio, but her father’s family had lived in Mississippi from the time of slavery. Throughout her childhood, Taylor visited her relatives and heard stories of her ancestors. Later, as a novelist, she would draw on their experiences for her work. She has said that the story of her family is one of ordinary people who have done nothing more extraordinary than survive in a society committed to their destruction.
After graduating from the University of Toledo, Mildred Taylor spent two years in Ethiopia, where she taught English and history for the Peace Corps and where she fell in love with Africa. When she returned to the United States, she began writing. Her first effort, Song of the Trees (1975), began the story of Cassie Logan, an African American girl in the 1930s, and her family.
Since then, she has written several more prize-winning novels about the Logan family. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1976), which won the Newbery Medal, has been considered one of the most popular novels among middle school readers. Let the Circle Be Unbroken (1981) won the Coretta Scott King Award. In The Road to Memphis (1990), Cassie was brought through World War II. The most recent Logan novel is a prequel to the rest of the series. The Land (2001) tells the story of Cassie’s grandfather, Paul-Edward Logan. This book also won the Coretta Scott King Award in 2002.