JILL TATTERSALL: TALENT AND VERSATILITY (one of Jill's many watercolours above)
By - Nancy Terrell (reprinted from Nautical Scene 1998)
Jill Tattersall has very distinct talents. Few women sailed to the Caribbean in the early 1960's with a young family and a physician husband. Ralph O'Neal, the present Chief Minister of the British Virgin Islands, was on hand to record this event with his camera. The photo, a favorite of Jill's and all that see it, shows a young family under a palm tree as if they had not a care in the world.
Actually, the contrary is true. Jill is a woman who cares about many of the concerns of modern life. Born in Cornwall, she grew up on an apple orchard in Essex. Her father had been Governor of Bihar and Orissa, pre World War II, and an admirer of Gandhi. He was responsible for bringing rain to arid areas in India through the implementation of forest planting. Later his English farm was used as a prototype for the School of Agriculture at Oxford University.
The home in which Jill spent her childhood was built in 1605. There was a secret room, a popular feature in houses of that day, which fostered Jill's imagination and literary talents. When not in school, Jill would spend her time writing and illustrating (she wrote her first book at eight) and is now the author of more than fourteen successful historical novels and an elected "Daughter of Mark Twain" - a prestigious award for native story tellers.
She inherited her intellect and love of nature from both sides of the family. Jill's many watercolors depict Caribbean landscapes, revealing a hardworking but serene lifestyle. They retail internationally both as paintings and on note cards as well as illustrations to her historical booklets. Her period novels sell throughout the world and have been translated into many languages.
Jill received her early education at a boarding school in Shropshire and was later sent to a "finishing school" in Switzerland. During World War II her father organized the local Home Guard while her mother drove an ambulance and held welfare clinics. Food was scarce and life was difficult.
After the war Jill attended a Polytechnical school where she studied foundation courses in fashion, drawing, sculpture, architecture and basic anatomy. She learned about health and continued her study of languages, in what was to be a lifelong interest. While completing a three year course in Occupational Therapy at Oxford, Jill met her future husband, Robin Tattersall, now a Plastic Surgeon in the British Virgin Islands.
The handsome couple earned money by modeling. He with top fashion models in the fifties, she with the successful womens magazines of the day. It was Woman's Own, one of the foremost women's magazines of the 60s, that enabled the Tattersall's to bring their sloop, SUMMER'S CLOUD (named after Jill's first novel) to the Caribbean when Robin was appointed surgeon to the BVI, in exchange for an article on their adventure.
Arriving at Careening Cove, Tortola, in 1965, with sons James, Mark and Simon, (Johnny was born in the BVI) the Tattersalls took up residence at Ft. Burt Hotel. The boys attended school on the second floor of what is now The Pub. Later, when they moved to Treasure Isle Hotel, Robin commuted to the hospital by jeep or sailing dinghy, with a choice of three horses for emergency transport. The two eventually purchased Bougainvillea Clinic and changed their residence once again.
The death of her parents and a divorce brought Jill to live at Nanny Cay. Her interest in the original settlers of the Caribbean, the Carib and Arawak Indians, led her to trace the origins of their extinct languages. Isolating eight basic phonetic sounds, each with its own root meaning, she found that these would be enough to make a viable language of over 25,000 words. When the trail of these phonemes seemed to lead back to connect with such ancient languages as Sumerian and Indo-European, Desmond Nicholson, (President of the Caribbean Association of Archeologists) encouraged her to present a paper to 250 anthropologists at an international conference.
With her interest in anatomy and physical studies, Jill expanded her theories on how languages are directly related to the development of the human brain. She discussed her findings with such giants in the field of Paleontology as Don Johannson (discoverer of "Lucy", the three and ½ million year old proto-human), Richard Leakey and Professor Laitman, an internationally known specialist in Paleontological speech research. Coincidentally, Prof. Laitman postulates the same eight sounds that Jill suggests as the basis of human language.
Somehow, during this intense life, filled with talent and nurturing, Jill found the time to win the Virgin's Cup on the family Herreshoff ketch, GALATEA, with Jackie Snell, of the Last Resort, and Joyce Stewart, artist, among her crew. A natural Pollyanna, she passes on her Godmothers advice to her children, grandchildren and friends. "Let love be your motive, happiness your object and intuition your guide. Life will teach the rest."
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