Shirley Hughes is one of the best-loved and most innovative creators of books for young children. She has written and illustrated over 50 books and sold more than eleven million copies, won major awards and created some of the most enduring characters of children’s literature. She had received the Eleanor Farjeon Award for distinguished services to children’s literature, was awarded an OBE in 1999 and has received the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal, twice.
Born and raised in West Kirby, a quiet seaside town on the Wirral, Shirley Hughes spent her wartime childhood drawing, painting and making up stories with her two sisters. Encouraged and inspired by visits to Liverpool’s magnificent Walker Art Gallery, Shirley developed a lifelong interest in ‘narrative painting’, or pictures that tell stories. This led to a year at Liverpool Art School studying fashion and costume design followed by fine art at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford. She soon settled in Notting Hill developing her distinctive graphic style using pen and ink, watercolour and gouache with which she infuses ordinary domestic scenes with a mixture of cosiness and magic.
Shirley began to write and draw her own picture books when her children were young. Her first book – Lucy and Tom’s Day – was published in 1960, and she has continued to delight and innovate right up to the present day, with wordless picture books and strip cartoons among others, but always with her characteristic attention to detail and effortless evocation of the everyday life and concerns of small children.