West Derby children's author and illustrator Shirley Hughes dies aged 94, after 'short illness'

Shirley Hughes' book sales surpassed 10 million. Credit: PA Images

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

Hughes, who was born in West Derby in Liverpool, was best known for her much-loved books in the Alfie series.

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

Her beloved children's book Dogger, first published in 1977 about a little boy who loses his stuffed dog toy, went on to win her the Kate Greenaway Medal, awarded for "an outstanding book in terms of illustration for children and young people".

Shirley Hughes receiving a CBE from the Duke of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace in 2017. Credit: PA

Throughout her career, she illustrated some 200 children's books and accrued lifetime sales surpassing 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.

Another first in her career was being 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.

Blackman paid tribute to Shirley Hughes on Twitter:

Sir Michael Morpurgo said of her accolade: "She is also a national treasure to parents, because many millions of them too have grown up with Shirley Hughes, and are now passing on their affection for her stories, her characters and her illustration, to their own children.

BookTrust, the UK's largest children's reading charity, paid tribute to Hughes:

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

In 2017, asked about her inspiration for Dogger, she said "The inspiration behind it was another lost toy.

"We did look everywhere, but we never found it. (The actual) Dogger was a present to our son when he was two years old.

"When the book was finished, I was told it was too English to be popular abroad; however, it proved to be my big breakthrough and has been published in many different languages all over the world."

Shirley Hughes was born in West Derby. Credit: PA

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

The family 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."