Shirley Hughes: Author of much loved children's book Dogger dies aged 94

2 March 2022, 10:08 | Updated: 2 March 2022, 12:16

Shirley Hughes has died at the age of 94
Shirley Hughes has died at the age of 94. Picture: Getty

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Children's author and illustrator Shirley Hughes has died at the age of 94.

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Hughes died "peacefully at home after a short illness on Friday 25th February 2022", a family statement said.

The statement added: "Shirley's books about everyday family life are adored by generations of families and she is held in the highest esteem by her peers."

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She was best known for her much-loved books in the Alfie series - about a boy called Alfie and his little sister Annie Rose - as well as children's picture book Dogger.

Dogger, first published in 1977 about a little boy who loses his stuffed dog toy, won her the Kate Greenaway Medal for "an outstanding book in terms of illustration for children and young people".

Hughes won the prize again for Ella's Big Chance, a reimagining of Cinderella, in 2003.

Throughout her career, she illustrated some 200 children's books and sold more than 10 million copies of her books.

She was appointed a CBE in 2017 for her services to children's literature, having been made an OBE in 1999.

She was also awarded the inaugural BookTrust Lifetime Achievement award in 2015 by a judging panel which included some of her celebrated colleagues from the literary world, including Sir Michael Morpurgo and Malorie Blackman.

BookTrust, the UK's largest children's reading charity, paid tribute to Hughes, tweeting: "All of us at @BookTrust are devastated to hear the news that Shirley Hughes has passed away at the age of 94.

"Shirley's incredible stories and illustrations, from Dogger to Alfie and Lucy and Tom, have touched so many generations and are still so loved. Thank you, Shirley."

Sir Philip Pullman, author of the His Dark Materials trilogy, said no other illustrator was "ever loved as much".

In a statement, he said: "Shirley Hughes was admired, enjoyed, talked about, listened to, read, looked at, thought about as much as any other illustrator has ever been; but no other illustrator, I can say for certain, was ever loved as much."

Sir Michael Morpurgo, who wrote children's novel War Horse, added: "We have all grown up with the stories and drawings of Shirley Hughes deep inside us. We've enjoyed them for ourselves, with our children, with our grandchildren.

"Shirley must have began the reading lives of so many millions. That moment when you've read a book like Alfie and sit back and think 'that was wonderful, tell me another'. Thank you Shirley from all of us, children of today and children of yesterday."

Author Michael Rosen wrote on Twitter: "Shirley Hughes has gone. Long live wonderful, lovely Shirley. You've delighted and moved us for years and years and years and will go on doing so."

The author was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2000 and in 2014 she was awarded the Simon Wiesenthal Centre/Museum of Tolerance Children's Book Award for Hero On A Bicycle, her first novel published in 2012.

Born in West Kirby, she was the daughter of TJ Hughes - who founded what would become a successful chain of department stores that first originated in Liverpool.

She studied drawing and costume design at the Liverpool School of Art, and also studied fine art at Oxford's Ruskin School of Art.

Her early work included illustrations for Dorothy Edwards' My Naughty Little Sister, with the first picture book she illustrated and wrote being Lucy And Tom's Day in 1960.

She went on to collaborate on the Dixie O'Day series with her daughter Clara, who is also an illustrator.

She was married to architect John Vulliamy and the couple had three children - Clara and sons Ed and Tom.