Shirley Hughes (1927–2022) was born and brought up in West Kirby, near Liverpool, England, and studied at Liverpool Art School and the Ruskin School of Fine Art, Oxford. She began to write and design her own picture books when she had a young family and eventually authored more than fifty children’s books. She was the illustrator of some two hundred more.
“What I like to draw best is people, preferably out of my head—people in motion, involved in relationships with one another, in dramatic events or domestic ones, in situations that are funny or sad, fantastic, farcical, realistic, or romantic,” she once said. “Observing children, their movements, expressions, absorbed unconscious grace, is an endless challenge. Luckily my window looks out onto a London square garden, where there are always children playing—chasing one another, pushing doll’s prams, kicking balls, riding bicycles, quarreling, and generally fooling around. This activity is as important a part of civilized society as having the right kind of books and pictures available to everybody, and 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.”