Author Clyde Watson is best known for her award-winning children’s books, including Father Fox’s Pennyrhymes, which was a National Book Award runner-up. She is also the composer of the original music that appears in three of her books. Her adult poetry has appeared in Pastoral Magazine and in the anthology Readings for Remembrance by Eleanor Munro. She has written scripts for several theater groups, including The Christmas Revels and the Summer Revels. In 2005 she was commissioned by the Saint-Gaudens Memorial to write a script entitled Masque of The Golden Bowl, for the centennial celebration of the original (lost) version of the play. It was presented in five outdoor performances at the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, New Hampshire. Watson is the editor of Waterfront New York: Images of the 1920s & ‘30s, written and illustrated by Aldren A. Watson, published by The Quantuck Lane Press in November 2014.
FOR YOUNG READERS: a biography of Clyde Watson by her daughter Rosey, age 8
On July 25, 1947, a baby girl was born in St. Vincent's Hospital in New York City. Her parents named her Clyde Dingman Watson. They called her Clydie for short. She is kind of short, she likes being short. When she was two she broke her collar bone by falling out of a highchair.
When she was little, she and her brothers and sisters explored the cellar. It had big barrels of molasses and potatoes. They always used to find things that had dropped down from upstairs through the heat register.
When Clyde went to school her favorite subject was nature. And she liked Fred Mason a lot. He was her favorite teacher. Tacos was her favorite dinner.
When Clyde was 11 she went to Switzerland and stayed with a Swiss family for a year and went to school. All the girls had their ears pierced, but Clyde didn't want hers to be pierced so they said that they would pierce them in the night. But they never did.
She loves foxes very much. She likes to be in the woods a lot, because she likes to hear the bird songs.
Clyde likes to read more than she watches TV. She hates it (TV).
When she got married, her husband made her a wooden box that is very hard to get open. And she treasures it very much.
The best thing that has ever happened to her was having kids. She had one in 1982 and one in 1979. She would have liked to be named Minna. That's why she named one of her children Roseminna.
To end this biography I will tell you about the time when she was at a party and wine spilled down her dress.
MORE ABOUT ME:
I grew up in a two-hundred-year-old house, on a small farm in Vermont, with seven brothers and sisters and a host of animals. Our household was a very lively and noisy place. There were always about ninety nine things going on at once. In one corner there might be a child playing with a basket of kittens while another fed a baby goat from a bottle. A pet hen, Hepzibah, strolled in and out of the house as she pleased, occasionally laying an egg on the kitchen floor. There were always people in the kitchen making butter, baking bread or cookies, preparing or cleaning up after a meal. From the shop you might hear hammering and sawing, and there were usually two or three people busy sewing, reading, or drawing. Floating above the din created by all of this activity, piano, violin, cello, or flute music could often be heard, for we were all expected to practice our instruments daily.
With both parents involved in creating books, writing and illustrating were a natural part of everyday life. What fun my brothers and sisters and I had writing stories and poems for each other, often making and illustrating our own books. At Christmas time we carved and printed our own greeting cards. We also wrote letters to each other when we were apart, and kept journals in which we wrote about exciting things that happened, as well as recording our dreams and our troubles.
My mother, Nancy Dingman Watson, was the author of numerous children's books, most of them illustrated by my father. She encouraged all creative endeavors with her attentive encouragement. My very first published book “Carol To A Child” was a collaboration with both of my parents: I set a Christmas poem of my mother's to music, and my father illustrated it. The year it was published, my five sisters and I sang in the church choir at Christmas time. For a surprise, we performed the music from this book, all of us carrying candles. Right in the middle of it, one sister—still quite young—nearly set her hair on fire!
I cherish the image of my mother sitting on the big granite doorstep in Putney, cradling a nursing baby with one hand, scribbling out her next book with the other. When I was grown, our mutual love of words was one of our greatest enjoyments, from doing the Sunday crossword together to sharing our latest work.
My father, Aldren Auld Watson, was a well-known author and illustrator, and in those years, he worked on the third floor of our house. His studio was a wonderful place to spend time. Dad was very patient with the frequent intrusions of his curious children, though looking back I wonder how on earth he wrote and illustrated over 150 books with eight children interrupting him constantly. Sometimes we just wanted a certain kind of paper, or to be helped with stitching up a quick little book. At other times we would bring our little arguments or skinned knees to him for comfort or judicial action.
In the studio Dad taught us hand bookbinding, linoleum carving and printing, and other artistic techniques such as pen and ink, watercolor painting, and the art of sketching. If he was busy, there were wonderful things to look at: the Jack Sprat marionette with a wax head, the model tugboat, the ancient steeple clock that showed the Wise Men on camels, following yonder star. The bulletin board was filled with sketches and book ideas, as well as work in progress to study. I will never forget the wonderful smell up there, a combination of linseed oil, printing ink, new paper and a special magic that has no name.
After the first book, I went on to collaborate with my sister Wendy Watson, with whom I have produced fourteen picture books.