Shirley Hughes: tributes pour in for ‘treasured’ children’s author as she dies aged 94

Shirley Hughes , writer, attends the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival,
(Image credit: Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)

Shirley Hughes has died aged 94 and heartbroken fans were quick to pay tribute to her “wonderful legacy” at this difficult time. 

Beloved children’s author and illustrator Shirley Hughes wrote some of the best books for kids (opens in new tab) and there’ll be many parents out there who have fond memories of her Alfie and Annie Rose classics in particular. Now the day before World Book Day 2022 (opens in new tab), her three children have taken to social media to share the devastating news that Shirley passed away last month. 

Posting a beautiful photo of their late mother on Twitter, Shirley’s children Ed, Tom and Clara wrote simply, “It is with deepest sorrow that we announce that Shirley died peacefully in her sleep at home on Friday 25th February.”  

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And it’s clear from the immense number of poignant responses and the outpouring of support and sympathy just how much Shirley’s works have touched people’s hearts since her first - Lucy and Tom’s Day - was published in 1960. Sharing their own memories of her books, many fans considered her a part of their childhoods. 

“Oh Clara… What a remarkable human she was, and what a remarkable family she produced. So much love to you all. Last week I became the proud owner, aged 45, of a second hand copy of this - my absolute favourite. I will read it now and hold you all in my thoughts. 🤍 xxxxxxxx”, one person wrote poignantly. 

Shirley Hughes author and artist for children's books

“I’m so sorry to hear this, Shirley Hughes was a big part of my childhood, her joyful illustrations captured beautifully children in all their glorious chaos and exuberance, 😢” a second person said, echoing this sentiment.  

Another reflected on how much Shirley’s work created a sense of childhood as they commented, “So sorry for your loss. You can see from all the comments how loved she was and how superbly she captured, in words and pictures, the essence of childhood. I think of Bonting on the beach. Thank you Shirley for your wonderful legacy.”

“Shirley's work has been and will continue to be greatly treasured by my family. I feel like we've lost a friend. Please accept my sincerest condolences”, a fourth person declared.

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Whilst someone else couldn’t help but give Alfie and Annie Rose a shout-out as two of her most famous characters as they said, “If you’re listening up there Shirley, thank you so much for allowing me to form such precious moments with my children, reading your beautiful books. They are grown now but will always love Alfie and Annie Rose especially 📚💗”. 

Though the news that Shirley Hughes has died has been met with huge sadness from so many, the impact she had upon her readers was immense.

Throughout her hugely successful career, she's understood to have sold more than 10 million copies and illustrated 200 children's books.