Mildred D. Taylor was born September 13, 1943, in Jackson, Mississippi. Three months after her birth her family moved to Toledo, Ohio. She attended the University of Toledo, where she majored in English education. After graduating, she served in the Peace Corps for two years in Ethiopia. In 1968, Taylor enrolled in a graduate program in journalism at the University of Denver, where she became active in the Black Student Alliance. In 1971, Taylor moved to Los Angeles, where she tried to become a writer. She had long wanted to write to provide readers with the black heroes that had been missing from her childhood schoolbooks.
While living in Los Angeles, Taylor learned of a contest for minority writers sponsored by the Council on Interracial Books for Children. She quickly revised a story she had written earlier and, in 1974, won in the African American category. This short book was published as Song of the Trees in 1975. Since then, Taylor, who now lives in Denver, has been writing full time.
Her books have been almost universally praised for their graceful, poetic style, their superb characterization, and their sensitive treatment of racial conflict in the American South.