Fiction Ed’s Blog: The Much-Loved Shirley Hughes

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Much-loved children’s author and illustrator, Shirley Hughes, has died at the age of 94.

Like many families all over the world, we have fond memories of reading Shirley’s books together, when our children were little.

“Lucy and Tom’s ABC” helped everyone get started with the alphabet.

“Alfie Weather”, a collection of stories and poems, is still on our bookshelves, loved to pieces.

And the story of “Bonting” (in “The Big Alfie Out Of Doors Storybook”) still raises a smile, when we remember the number of times it was requested at bedtime.

Early Days

Born in West Kirby in 1927, Shirley attended the Liverpool School Of Art, and the Ruskin in Oxford.

She initially illustrated the work of other authors – such as Dorothy Edwards’ “My Naughty Little Sister”.

The first book she would both write and illustrate herself was “Lucy And Tom’s Day”, in 1960.


Shirley’s story “Dogger”, about a little boy who loses his favourite soft toy, won the Kate Greenaway Medal for distinguished illustration in a children’s book.

Shirley would win the medal again in 2003 for “Ella’s Big Chance”, a retelling of Cinderella.

Alfie And Annie Rose

The Alfie stories were favourites, in our house.

They feature characters such as Alfie’s little sister, Annie Rose, his boisterous friend, Bernard, and his neighbours, the MacNallys.

Gentle and reassuring, the stories don’t shy away from challenges in little children’s lives, with moments that can be scary or sad, as well as funny.

But they always resolve positively. They celebrate everyday life, and the wonder of nature, always emphasising values of friendship and kindness. In much the same way as the “Friend”.

Thank You, Shirley

Shirley’s appealing illustrations and gentle stories have encouraged countless little ones to start picking up books.

For all the happy memories – thank you, Shirley.

And to all the little ones and their grown-ups who’ll enjoy the stories in the future – happy reading, and sweet dreams.

Lucy Crichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 155 years of 'Friend' fiction!