My husband found his old copies of these beautiful books in his parents’ basement and my two young sons immediately loved them. It sparked a desire in me to find out what had become of Mr. Irving. I wondered if he was still alive and what other work he may have done. Searching online yielded limited information, but I found an article that said he lived nearby in the town of Haworth, New Jersey. We contacted a librarian there, who said she knew of him and thought he had died recently, but, after making a few phone calls, she learned that he was still alive at the royal age of 98 and he would love to hear from us.
It took at least nine months to arrange a meeting. Mr. Irving was hospitalized with pneumonia for a few months, and when he returned home, communication over the phone was difficult. We finally called the librarian and asked if there was anyone who could help us set up a meeting. She got us in touch with his son Bruce, who had been spending every day taking care of his father since he had come home from the hospital. He felt that it would be a real pleasure for his dad to bask in some attention for a few hours.
Finally, the day had come to interview Mr. Irving, and I was excited about the conversation. Arriving at the modest white split-level house on a warm, sunny morning, we were let in by Bruce, who answered the door. Hung throughout the main floor of the house were at least 13 paintings of Mr. Irving’s signature flowers and birds, along with a few portraits. An amazing oil painting of chrysanthemums hung over the mantle.