- Video report by ITV News Arts Editor Nina Nannar
Children’s book author and illustrator Judith Kerr has died at the age of 95.
Kerr, who wrote and illustrated a number of enduring children’s books including The Tiger Who Came To Tea, died at home on Wednesday following a short illness, her publisher HarperCollins said.
A much-loved and timeless classic, The Tiger Who Came To Tea has sold more than five million copies since it was first published in 1968, and it has never been out of print.
Earlier this year, Channel 4 announced it would air a special animated adaptation of the book, which tells the story of a tea-guzzling tiger, who turns up unannounced and eats and drinks Sophie and her mother out of house and home.
Kerr’s other works include When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit and the Mog the Cat series of books.
Ann-Janine Murtagh, executive publisher HarperCollins Children’s Books, said: “It has been the greatest honour and privilege to know and publish Judith Kerr for over a decade, though of course her history with HarperCollins goes back over 50 years.
Tributes to Judith Kerr from politicians to a best-selling author
- Comedian Josh Widdicombe posted on his Instagram: ''Bloody love Mog. RIP Judith Kerr''
- MP Anna Soubry tweeted: ''RIP the wonderful #JudithKerr - so many happy memories of reading the Mogg books and the lovely ‘Tiger who came for tea’ to my girls. What a remarkable legacy.''
- Former Chancellor now Evening Standard Editor, George Osborne, tweeted the second edition had been changed to feature The Tiger Who Came To Tea, on the front page and added: ''Thank you, to the late Judith Kerr, for your wonderful creation''
- Best-selling author Sophie Kinsella tweeted: ''Oh what very sad news. Judith Kerr gave all our family so much joy.''
In 2016, she was awarded a lifetime achievement award at London Zoo, the place that inspired her most famous book.
She explained how she used to tell her daughter the story after a trip to see the tigers at London Zoo.
"I told her other stories as well, but she wouldn't have them," she said.
"She was very bossy and she would say 'talk the tiger', so I kept telling her this story."
“She came to visit our offices frequently – always bringing her books in person; often arriving on the number nine bus and leaving us all full of laughter and in awe of her astonishing zest for life and absolute commitment to delivering the very best books for children.
“Her incisive wit and dry humour made her both excellent company and a joy to publish. She embraced life as one great big adventure and lived every day to the full.
"She was absolutely thrilled when I gave her the news that she had been named Illustrator of the Year earlier this month.
"Her characters and books have delighted generations of children and provided some of the first and fondest reading memories of childhood.
“My thoughts at this time are with her children, Matthew and Tacy, and her grandchildren.”
Charlie Redmayne, HarperCollins chief executive, said: “Judith Kerr was a wonderful and inspiring person who was much loved by everyone at HarperCollins.
“She was a brilliantly talented artist and storyteller who has left us an extraordinary body of work. Always understated and very, very funny, Judith loved life and loved people – and particularly she loved a party.
“Beautifully dressed and with a smile on her face she would light up the room and would always be one of the last to leave. Time spent in her company was one of life’s great privileges and I am so grateful to have known her.”
- 'Forever on our bookshelves and in our imaginations'
Writer Matt Haig tweeted: "Oh no. Judith Kerr. Tears in my eyes. Must have read The Tiger Who Came to Tea two hundred times to my kids. There was a time that was all they wanted.
"The best read aloud book there has ever been. I know 95 is a good age but I thought she'd live for ever like the tiger will."
He added in a second tweet: "I even mention reading The Tiger Who Came to Tea in Reasons to Stay Alive as one of my reasons."
Spandau Ballet's Gary Kemp was among the people paying tribute to Kerr.
He tweeted: "Goodbye Judith Kerr. All my four boys have adored you and I've loved reading your work to them. Forever on our bookshelves and in our imaginations. #JudithKerr".
Author Tony Parsons tweeted: "Some books light up the world. Thank you for The Tiger Who Came to Tea and rest well, Judith Kerr."
Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis shared her own memory of Kerr. She tweeted: "I remember asking #JudithKerr Kerr if the tiger symbolised the 1960s sexual revolution where normal mores and suburban life became upended by this wild and exotic creature.
"She told me no, it was about a tiger coming to tea."