I was born in 1952. I grew up with one brother and four sisters in Plymouth, Massachusetts where most of my large extended family still lives. My pals were the horses, dogs, cats, chickens, pigs and cows that populated the fields surrounding us. My inspiration still comes from them as well as the turtles, bullfrogs, fish and dragonflies on Forge’s Pond. In those days we shared Plymouth beach with fewer inhabitants; mostly seagulls, terns and a small herd of swollen overturned fishing boats ripe with starfish, barnacles and tiny crabs.
My name is real. It once belonged to the daughter of Elder William Brewster, the spiritual leader of the Mayflower and my eleventh great-grandfather. As children we were humbled by the story of outcast pilgrims making a treacherous journey toward freedom worthy of sacrifice, landing on an icy Plymouth beach in stark December, with no shelter, no provisions, nor promises to greet them. My family is descended from Love Brewster.
My first real job was as a guide in the Harlow House in Plymouth. Dressed as a pilgrim, I showed tourists how to take a handful of wool or flax clean it, spin it and weave it into cloth.
As far back as I can remember, I drew pictures. When my sister Marlee went to Rhode Island School of Design, I thought it was amazing that there were colleges just for art. I later attended Philadelphia College of Art. I had two exceptional teachers there, Doris Staffel and Lilly Yeh whose words I still hear today.
My degree in printmaking and bookmaking qualified me for immediate employment as a cook, a teddy bear salesperson, and a barmaid. Next I ran an antique store and gallery. All the while I was a closet painter, heaping up a towering portfolio.
In 1977 I married Holland Chauncey Gregg and, a year later, he was the one who convinced me to come out of the woods and take some of that portfolio to New York City.
Knees knocking, I met with rejection and delight. Random House and T.Y. Crowell both asked me to write a picture book. I did just that. My first story was so bad that it went to live in a drawer for ten years (when I finally edited it down to “Rabbit Inn”).
Fortunately, in the meantime, T.Y. Crowell gave me my first book called “Dame Wiggins of Lee and her Seven Wonderful Cats” to illustrate.
Clarion published my second book, which I wrote, called “Ellsworth and the Cats from Mars.”
My children, Holland and Marietta, were born in 1979 and 1981 and became my constant companions and artistic assistants.