Vi Taylor wrote that she was ‘born in 1913, surplus to requirements, into a family of three girls who had left school.’ She went on to describe an ‘idyllic early childhood, untrammeled by parental ambition or constraint, living in freedom in a rural setting, in an adult world.’
Convent and Grammar School educated, Vi taught herself to read long before school – via her sisters’ magazines and her father’s heavy classics, though she amusingly observed that she dozed at school until sixteen – ‘not exam material, (I was woefully innumerate)’.
Vi went on to teacher training in Chichester, and training at the Manchester College of Art. She taught Art and English in Sussex and in Bedfordshire, before wartime training as a State Enrolled Nurse, marriage later, and a return to teaching in East End London schools.
This self-described ‘very patchy patchwork of a dyed in the wool Cumbrian’ returned to the county to teach Art, English and History acting also as a careers adviser until retirement, whereupon Vi joined the WEA Vocational course ‘Journalism’, enrolled with the Open University, earned an OU Creative Writing Diploma and thereafter the OU Modern Graphics Art course.
Vi Taylor was a modern-day tour-de-force; she died in 2015.
See her poem Peace – which explains her vivacity!
Mungrisdale Writers tutor Angela Locke wrote in July 2015
I have received the very sad news of the death of Vi Taylor, a highly esteemed and valued member of Mungrisdale Writers. I had the great pleasure of working with Vi for many years before the foundation of the group. From the beginning her work was marked by her talent, sharp wit, amazing memory and storytelling abilities. She was a very fine writer who really deserved a much wider audience, bringing humour and a deep wisdom to all she wrote. A founder member of Mungrisdale Writers, she was always an important influence, giving generous support over the years. Almost all of the group’s publications were enlivened by her wry, insightful and witty poetry and prose.
I have many very happy memories of working with her – in 2000 she was part of the British/American Writers Retreat which I co-led on Iona, and was hugely popular with the group, even finding a distant cousin amongst the American contingent! She was a long-term visitor to Iona, where she drew deep inspiration for her own religious life.
My Keswick group published Miracle 2000, an original and sideways look at the Nativity Story, and I vividly remember her coming into the studio at Radio Cumbria in Carlisle, and delivering her particular part with such brio and acting skills. The play was broadcast on Christmas Day, and proved hugely popular.
Much more recently, Mungrisdale Writers’ iconic publication Dating@60 and other Tribulations brought us to the attention of the national media, including Woman’s Hour and the World Service, and Vi’s work was broadcast on the airwaves across continents, leading to interviews and wide media interest! Until recent years she often appeared at Mungrisdale having fought her way up her lane in her car through ice and snow. Latterly, she had problems with eyesight and hearing, but it never dimmed in any way the fresh, sometimes acid, always humorous and wise contributions that she made in the group.
Well into her hundreds, Vi left us all standing with her sparkling pieces
My lasting memory will be of an extraordinary artist and writer, whose rich heritage and imagination will be very sadly missed. It isn’t often that I have the chance to work with a woman of such talent, whose great-grandmother washed Wordsworth’s small clothes! Vi always used to say that you got to know someone very well if you did their laundry. I will feel her loss hugely in my group, and feel immensely privileged to have worked with her as a writer. I doubt we will ever see her like again, and she will be sorely missed by everyone.