Shirley Hughes: 'Alfie' and 'Dogger' creator dies aged 94

The award-winning author wrote over 50 books and illustrated more than 200

Hughes sold more than 11 million copies of her books. Photo: Getty

Shirley Hughes, the beloved British children’s author and illustrator, has died at the age of 94, her family said.

She died “peacefully at home after a short illness on Friday 25th February 2022”, a statement issued to the PA news agency said.

Her daughter and two sons posted a tweet saying their mother's passing had caused “deep sorrow".

Hughes, who sold more than 11 million copies of her books, was best known for her Alfie series, as well as the picture book Dogger.

She was appointed a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 2017 for her services to children’s literature, having been made an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in 1999.

Throughout her career, she illustrated about 200 children’s books and wrote more than 50 books for children and adults.

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

It was an achievement that Hughes would repeat, winning the prize a second time for Ella’s Big Chance, a reimagining of Cinderella, in 2003.

Another first in her career was being awarded the inaugural BookTrust Lifetime Achievement award in 2015.

At the time, she said the accolade was a “tremendous honour which I appreciate more than I can say.”

“I have derived so much fulfilment from my long career, first as an illustrator of other artists’ stories and then creating my own,” she added.

“Best of all has been perennially encountering very young children who are learning to look with such rapt pleasure and follow a story visually long before they are able to read.”

BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity, paid tribute to Hughes.

“All of us at @BookTrust are devastated to hear the news that Shirley Hughes has passed away at the age of 94,” a statement on Twitter said.

An illustration of Alfie by Shirley Hughes from 'Alfie Gets in First'. PA

“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.”

British children's author and poet Michael Rosen, 75, also posted a heartfelt message on social media.

“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,” he said.

Sir Michael Morpurgo, 78, author of children’s novel War Horse, said his generation had “grown up with the stories and drawings of Shirley Hughes deep inside” and had passed them on to their children and grandchildren to enjoy.

He paid tribute to Hughes for kick-starting 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.”

Updated: March 02, 2022, 1:58 PM
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