Shirley Hughes has died “peacefully at home” at the age of 94 after a lifetime of writing and illustrating books loved by children around the world, her family said.
The best-selling author has written more than 50 books and illustrated around 200 more, including the alfie series and dogan award-winning story about a boy who loses his toy dog.
“There’s a strong case for that if you’ve read dogyou can probably relax with other literature,” said author Katherine Rundell in The Telegraph. “Go to Dostoyevsky if you can, but you’ve got the basics covered.”
Hughes “illuminated the world of her books with sheer reality” and took “the perils and triumphs of young childhood absolutely seriously,” Rundell added.
For novelist and screenwriter Frank Cottrell-Boyce, precision is what characterizes the work of Hughes, who died at her west London home on Friday after a short illness. “No one since Rembrandt has captured the precarious semi-balance of the toddler so perfectly,” he wrote The new statesman.
No one else has “represented the ordinary domestic chaos so honestly,” he said. The “often slightly scruffy and just a little tired” parents depicted in her books made her world welcoming — “like she looked you up and down and said, ‘Don’t worry, you will.'”
These “engaged characters” and their “immediacy and power” came from their “skillful and distinctive illustrations with pen and ink, watercolor and gouache,” Julia Eccleshare said in The guard.
And in real life, Eccleshare added that Hughes is “exactly the person” her fans might have come to expect from her. “Typically wearing a hat, effortlessly elegant and graceful, she was wonderful company: funny, insightful, and kind with a laugh that was both loud and hearty.”
Born in West Kirby, Wirral, in 1927, Hughes was the daughter of TJ Hughes, owner of a Liverpool department store of the same name. He died by alleged suicide when she was five, leaving his widow, Kathleen, to raise their three daughters.
In a “free time” childhood, the future author “spent hours with her two sisters sketching, drawing and writing stories and plays,” according to Eccleshare.
These family theater productions continued through “years of rationing, blackouts, bombing raids and crushing boredom” of World War II, said Jan Benzel in The New York Times. Hughes then studied costume design at the Liverpool Art School. and then drawing at the Ruskin School of Art, Oxford.
Her books later made her “a beloved figure in England, honored by Queen Elizabeth II and showered with prizes,” Benzel continues.
Hughes, she “spent hours in neighborhood playgrounds watching kids move, stand, run and play” before returning to her drawing board. She was “fascinated by how children’s physicality conveys emotions — triumph and shyness, fear and sadness, determination and jubilation, intentional or not.”
In conversation with The Independent In 2013, she described her life as “invariably interesting, inspired by family life.” Her marriage to architect John Vulliamy lasted from 1952 until his death in 2007, and she had three children and grandchildren, who she said really made her laugh.
Biggest Regret? asked the newspaper. “I’m not going into it,” Hughes replied.
https://www.theweek.co.uk/arts-life/culture/books/955962/inside-the-world-of-shirley-hughes Into the world of Shirley Hughes