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24 May 2019, 13:14
The beloved children's book author and illustrator is best known for creating the classic story The Tiger Who Came to Tea
Author Judith Kerr, famous for creating beloved children’s book The Tiger Who Came to Tea, died on May 22nd, 2019, aged 95.
The writer and illustrator’s publisher HarperCollins confirmed the sad news on Twitter with a short statement that read: “It is with much sadness that we confirm the death of our beloved author and illustrator, Judith Kerr OBE.”
And as tributes pour in for the Berlin-born author, we take a look back at Judith’s literary legacy and personal life, from her famous books to her family.
Author Judith Kerr was born in Berlin in 1923 to a columnist father and music composer mother.
When she was just nine, Judith and her family fled to Switzerland to escape war-torn Germany. Shortly after they moved to Paris and then settled as a family in London.
In 1954, the budding writer married renown scriptwriter Nigel “Tom” Kneale and the couple went on to start a family.
In the years that followed, she conjured up a huge collection of charming stories and tall tales, which solidified her as a literary legend.
She was awarded an OBE in 2012 for her services to children's literature and Holocaust education.
Britain’s Got Talent judge and children's author David Walliams said he was "so sad" to hear of her death.
"She was a legendary author and illustrator, whose stories and illustrations gave pleasure to millions around the world, not least me and my son. Judith is gone but her books will live on forever," he added.
Author of the Horrid Henry children's series, Francesca Simon, also paid tribute to Judith’s talents. She described The Tiger Who Came to Tea as “perfect” in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live and said the news of her passing had her "feeling so sad”.
"It is a perfect book, because it is a mysterious book.
"On the surface it's a very simple story. It's a tiger who comes in, and is this guest who you're not sure about. But her stories also have this undertone of emotion, which is I think why we keep going back to them, to kind of delve into their mysteries.
"As well as the most beautiful and glorious illustrations. Her artwork is fantastic.
"And I love, as a writer myself, that she was writing and illustrating up to the end. In fact I was just trying to get tickets to see her at Hay-on-Wye next week.
“So I love her continuous engagement with her profession. To me that's unbelievably inspiring."
Judith is most famously known for penning children's book The Tiger Who Came to Tea, published in 1968.
As well as her wild cat hit, the writer and illustrator published more than 30 books over a 50-year period, including a series about a mischievous cat called Mog, which was reportedly based on her own pet.
The feline collection included: Mog the Forgetful Cat (1970), Mog's Christmas (1976), Mog and the Baby (1980), Mog in the Dark (1983), Mog and Me (1984), Mog's Family of Cats (1985), Mog's Amazing Birthday Caper (1986), Mog and Bunny (1988), Mog and Barnaby (also known as Look Out, Mog, 1991), Mog on Fox Night (1993), Mog in the Garden (1994), Mog's Kittens (1994), Mog and the Granny (1995), Mog and the Vee Ee Tee (1996), Mog's Bad Thing (2000), Goodbye, Mog (2002), and Mog's Christmas Calamity (2015).
After Judith and husband Tom married in the mid-fifties, the couple went on to have two children, Tacy and Matthew.
Their daughter, who was born in 1958, followed in her mother’s creative footsteps and went on to paint creatures for the Harry Potter films, as did their son, born in 1960, who is now a celebrated novelist.
To spark Tacy’s imagination as a child, she dreamt up the story of a tiger who came to a little girl’s house for tea.
In an interview, Judith once said: “I knew it by heart, every word. It hadn’t changed because you watch your child’s face and obviously you leave out bits gradually if they look bored. I told it to her again and again and again, and she used to say, ‘Talk the tiger’.”