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EntertainmentShirley Hughes, a children’s novelist, has died at the age of 94.
Shirley Hughes was well known for her beloved children's books Alfie and Dogger.

Shirley Hughes, a children’s novelist, has died at the age of 94.

Shirley Hughes, a children’s author and artist, died at the age of 94, according to her family.

Hughes is well known for his children’s picture book Dogger and the Alfie book series.

Her relatives informed the PA news agency that she died “peacefully at home following a brief illness” on Friday in London.


“Generations of families appreciate Shirley’s works about daily family life, and her contemporaries hold her in the greatest regard,” they stated.

Hughes illustrated almost 200 children’s books over her career, with over 10 million copies sold.


“Shirley Hughes was appreciated, liked, talked about, listened to, read, looked at, pondered about as much as any other illustrator has ever been, but no other illustrator, I can say for certain, was ever loved as much,” stated Sir Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials.

She studied sketching and costume design at the Liverpool School of Art, as well as fine art at Oxford’s Ruskin School of Art. She was born in West Kirby, the daughter of department store chain owner TJ Hughes.


Her early work includes illustrations for Dorothy Edwards’ My Naughty Little Sister before she authored and drew her first book, Lucy And Tom’s Day, in 1960, inspired by Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac.

‘A major breakthrough’

Alfie, Hughes’ well-known and extensively read series, began in 1977 and follows a little boy and his younger sister, Annie Rose.


Dogger released the same year, was about a young child who misplaced his plush dog toy. She told PA in 2017 that the idea for it stemmed from a real-life misplaced toy. “We looked everywhere, but we couldn’t find it,” she explained. “When our kid was two years old, we gave him [the genuine] Dogger as a gift.


“At the time, both of his ears flopped over, but [Dogger] was so affectionately crushed against his owner’s face that one ear was lifted erect, so I used him as a model when I came to make the narrative.”


“When the book was done, I was warned it was too English to be successful outside of the United States,” she said, “but it proved to be my great breakthrough and has been published in many various languages all over the world.”


The Kate Greenaway Medal, given to “an exceptional book in terms of artwork for children and young people,” was presented to her for publication.

She received it again in 2003 for Ella’s Big Chance, a retelling of Cinderella, and in 2015, a judging panel that included Sir Michael Morpurgo and Malorie Blackman gave her the inaugural BookTrust Lifetime Achievement award.


“My lengthy career has given me so much fulfilment, first as an illustrator of other artists’ works and later as a creator of my own,” she remarked after earning the award.


‘Had such an impact on so many generations

Sir Michael Turner, the author of War Horse, praised Hughes for “begin[ning] the reading lives of so many millions” in response to the news of her death. “We have all grown up with Shirley Hughes’ stories and pictures deep inside us,” he told the PA News agency. We’ve had fun with them on our own, with our kids, and with our grandkids.

“Shirley must have started the reading lives of tens of millions of people.” That moment after finishing a novel like Alfie and thinking to yourself, “That was amazing, tell me another.” Thank you, Shirley, from all of us, today’s kids and yesterday’s kids.”

Hughes’ “wonderful stories and artwork” had “affected so many generations and are still so adored,” according to BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity.


Hughes was awarded a CBE for contributions to children’s literature in 2017 after guest-editing an episode of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.


She had three children with architect John Vulliamy, with whom she was married. She moved on to work on the Dixie O’Day series alongside her daughter, Clara, who is also an illustrator.


Clara claimed her mother’s efforts will “glow brightly forever” as she led the tributes to her late mother.


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