Thornton Waldo Burgess, born January 14th in 1874, was a naturalist and conservationist who used his observations to write more than 170 books and 15,000 stories for a syndicated daily newspaper column, Bedtime Stories.
His first book, Old Mother West Wind, was published in 1910. Many of his books were illustrated by his friend, Harrison Cady. Burgess’ father died the year Burgess was born, so he began working as a child, picking berries, tending cows, harvesting water lilies, and trapping muskrats. One of his employers owned a wildlife habitat that so impressed the young boy that he later set his stories there, in Smiling Pool and the Old Briar Patch.
During his lifetime he founded land conservation programs, the Happy Jack Squirrel Saving Club to support war bonds, and The Radio Nature League, broadcast from Springfield, Massachusetts.
Burgess died in 1965 at the age of 91. After his death the Massachusetts Audubon Society purchased his Hampden home and established the Laughing Brook Nature Center there.