Shirley Hughes, Author and Illustrator
The art of illustrating...

Using inks, pens, brushes, chalks, squeezing out tubes of paint, putting down washes of colour is a tactile, sensuous and sometimes hair-raising activity but sometimes the work can reach a tranquil stage when you can happily be listening to music or a radio programme at the same time.

The difference between illustrating stories and picture books...

Working on a story written by someone else, is easier than working on a picture book, which stems entirely from yourself. If you get stuck or feel unsure of yourself you always have another imagination from which to draw refreshment.
Her love of writing...

Making up a story of your own and the pictures to go with it is something very close to the heart and in the end, I suppose, the greatest pleasure of all. The characters take on a life of their own and carry you along.

Her passion for drawing people...

What I like to draw best is people, preferably out of my head - people in motion, involved in relationships, in dramatic events or domestic ones, in situations which are funny or sad, fantastic, realistic or romantic.

Observing children, their movements, expressions and absorbed unconscious grace, is an endless challenge.
Alfie Gets in First

Alfie, his mum and baby sister arrive home and while his mum struggles with the pushchair, Alfie rushes inside and slams the door. So now Alfie's stuck inside and mum and Annie Rose are stuck outside without a key!

The Snow Lady

Sam loves playing in Trotter Street with her dog Mick and her friend Barney despite Mrs. Dean's complaining. "Mrs. Mean", Barney calls her but what if Mrs. Dean isn't as cold-hearted as she seems?

Abel's Moon

When Abel Grable returns home to his family, he is full of thrilling tales of his adventures. Tell us again! plead his little sons. So, Abel writes down his stories, tales that will stay with his boys long after he has gone away again...

The Lion and the Unicorn

As Lenny's father goes off to fight in the second world war, he gives his son a brass badge, which Lenny keeps with him when he is evacuated to a big house in the country. He meets the wounded soldier, Mick and learns how hard it is to be brave.


When Dave loses his favourite toy, Dogger, he is very sad. When Dogger turns up on a stall at the garden fete, everything seems all right until someone else buys him before Dave can get the money!

Jonadab and Rita

Minnie has so many toys that Jonadab and his friend Rita find themselves sad and lonely and left behind in the toy box. One moonlit night, Jonadab flies away but his new fairy friends are not as kind as he thought...

Peter Pan and Wendy by J.M. Barrie retold by May Byron and Shirley Hughes

A wonderful retelling of the story of Peter Pan - one of the best loved characters in children's literature.

Annie Rose is my Little Sister

Annie Rose and Alfie have lots of games they like to play together and when Annie Rose is ever sad or cross there is only one person who can make her feel better...her big brother.

Olly and Me

This collection of poems and stories is all about Katie and her little brother Olly. They visit the park, the library and the Natural History Museum, they make pancakes with Dad and a birthday card for Mum.

My Naughty Little Sister by Dorothy Edwards and Shirley Hughes

My naughty little sister is stubborn, greedy and full of mischief. She tries to cut off the cat's tail and bites Santa's hand. How much trouble can one little sister cause?

Shirley Hughes was born and brought up near Liverpool and has illustrated more than 200 books.

She has also written more than 50 books of her own and is best known for her stories that reflect family life such as Lucy and Tom and Alfie and Rose.

Having won the Kate Greenaway Award in 1977, Dogger was voted the Kate Greenaway Picture Book of all time in 2002. Recently, Shirley has written stories for older children and Ella's Big Chance won the Kate Greenaway Award in 2004.

Shirley has also won the Eleanor Farjeon Award and been awarded an O.B.E. for her services to Children's Literature.
Her inspiration to become an illustrator...

I still start work every morning without any very clear idea as to the nature of inspiration but illustrating, like acting or playing an instrument, springs from a passion to communicate, except that the audience isn't in the room with you.

It means getting inside someone else's skin and using your technique to illuminate the narrative, enhance the printed page and stimulate the reader's imagination.
Children playing out...

My window looks out onto a garden where there are always children playing - chasing one another, pushing doll's prams, kicking balls, riding bicycles, quarreling and generally fooling around.

Each year brings out another batch of personalities striding out in brand-new wellington books, all ready to join the fray. This activity, known round our way as playing out, is as important as having the right kind of books and pictures.

It is as important as having time to mooch about on your own if you want to, without anyone telling you what you ought to be doing, or thinking, or reading next. It's certainly the stuff of which inspiration is made.
In 2009, Shirley appeared in Picture Book: An Illustrated History of Children's Literature on BBC4, which discussed how words and pictures shape our childhood imagination.

In the series, we discovered how, as we grow up, our relationship with words and pictures becomes central to our understanding of the world.
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Picture Book...
Shirley told us about...
Some of Shirley's books...
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