Shirley Hughes at 90

Shirley Hughes will shortly be celebrating her 90th birthday. It’s hard to believe because her creative output shows no signs of slowing down. As part of our special edition newsletter to celebrate Shirley Hughes, we wanted to include some thoughts and messages from people who have fond memories of Shirley’s books and work, either professional or childhood memories. Here is what they shared with us:


Shirley Hughes has been part of my and my daughters’ lives for years and years; anything written by Shirley was top choice for bedtime reading. And last year they had a massive fight about who owned Dogger … and they’re all in their thirties! She was also very kind to me when I was a beginner writer; I’ll always remember her encouragement … and I was overwhelmed when she recognised me a year later! A most wonderful and generous woman. Vivien French – Author

Shirley Hughes’ stories and illustrations have always seemed to be there on a book shelf, ever since I was as young as her pre-school character, Alfie.Her drawings appear to be so effortless, believable and natural, even though as an illustrator myself, I know this cannot be so. 

Her small children have always struck me as being engrossed in the ordinary lives they lead and we, the audience, can identify and empathise with them through all their adventures and play. I shared my copies (brought down from my loft) of “Dogger” and “Alfie” with my, now more mature, toddler children, whom I hope enjoyed them equally. 

There is an innocence and verve in the characters and stories that I wanted to share, and a simplicity of innocent days past that I wanted to pass on in our now ever-faster moving lives. 

I love that Shirley Hughes continues to make work with her daughter Clara Vulliamy, and that she instilled a creativity within her child sharing her own stories. My son loves drawing and creating things, my daughter ideas and story writing. I would love to follow in Dame Shirley’s footsteps in sharing and creating ideas with my children as they get older., helping each other to continue realising our dreams. Diana Mayo – illustrator


Shirley Hughes was an integral part of my childhood. I only have to look at Lucy and Tom’s Day to be transported back to the 1970s and my childhood because to me the world really did look like that. Looking at Shirley’s illustrations engulfs me with the same warmth as pouring over old photo albums. Dogger is the story I have shared with children countless times in the 20 years I have worked in schools and I never fail to feel choked when Dave finds Dogger but doesn’t have enough money to buy him back. That page is a masterclass in suspense writing and countless children have rooted for Dave, collectively holding their breath until Bella steps in. I have collected as many of Shirley’s books as possible over the years and when my own children were born, I eagerly shared them. Lucy and Tom’s Christmas is a must read during the season and Alfie’s Christmas has been a welcome addition. Aah yes, Alfie. When my son was a baby I would read to my daughter who was a toddler and he would crawl and later walk around the room non stop during story time. However, whenever I read an Alfie story he would stop and listen. Only Alfie could work this magic for some time!                                                                                Thank you Shirley. Your timeless and wonderful books have been a powerful thread running through my life and Alfie, Annie Rose, Lucy and Tom are like members of my extended family.  Sam Keeley, Educational Consultant


In a prize-winning, critically-acclaimed career which spans over 60 years, and over 70 picture books reaching millions of children all across the globe, Shirley and her beloved characters have entertained, comforted, and taught generations about the world and how it works. So I’d like to thank Shirley, on behalf of everyone whose lives she’s touched – for all that she’s done, and all that she continues to do. Thank you Shirley, and a very happy birthday!Andrea MacDonald, Editor at Penguin Random House Children’s.


It’s not only Shirley’s work as an author and illustrator that we commemorate on this special occasion – Shirley has also been a tireless advocate for libraries, an inspiration to aspiring illustrators, and an advocate for other authors in setting up the PLR scheme. She is a real champion of our industry, and a force for good. Shirley’s work has always been a part of my life, and something which has brought me and my family a huge amount of joy. I speak on behalf of everyone at Penguin Random House when I say it’s truly an honour to be publishing Shirley’s books, and to have been her publishing home for over 60 years.  Happy Birthday Shirley, and here’s to many more!Francesca Dow, MD of Penguin Random House Children’s.


Shirley Hughes is without doubt my favourite picturebook author and illustrator. Her books have meant so much to me as both a bookseller and a parent as she perfectly captures family life with small children and retains the wonderful ability to see the world through the eyes of the child. As a young bookseller I started collecting her books even before I had children to share them with, starting with a lovely hardback edition of Dogger (the most perfectly constructed picturebook!) Over the years I have shared her books so many times with my children, giving us hours of pleasure and many shared references (we call Victorian terraced houses “Shirley Hughes’ houses”; if we collect stones they are called Bonting and we now have a dog called Alfie!) I am lucky enough that even until very recently my children (aged 20 and 16) still indulged my wish to read Lucy and Tom’s Christmas to them on Christmas Eve! Wishing a very Happy 90th Birthday to the very talented and much loved, Shirley Hughes! Kathleen Robb, Area Sales Manager, Bounce Sales & Marketing