Children's author and illustrator Shirley Hughes has died aged 94, her family has confirmed.

Children’s author and illustrator Shirley Hughes has died aged 94, her family has confirmed.

Hughes was best known for creating the Alfie book series, as well as children’s picture book Dogger.

She died “peacefully at home after a short illness” on Friday in London, her family told the PA news agency.

“Shirley’s books about everyday family life are adored by generations of families and she is held in the highest esteem by her peers,” they said.

Hughes illustrated 200 children’s books throughout her career, selling more than 10 million copies.

Children's author Shirley Hughes dies aged 94
An illustration of Alfie

Born in West Kirkby, the daughter of department store chain owner shop TJ Hughes, she studied drawing and costume design at the Liverpool School of Art; and fine art at Oxford’s Ruskin School of Art.

Her early work included illustrations for Dorothy Edwards’ My Naughty Little Sister, before she wrote and illustrated her own first book, Lucy And Tom’s Day, in 1960.

‘Big breakthrough’

Hughes’ much-loved and widely-read series Alfie was first published in 1977 and centred around a young boy and his little sister, Annie Rose.

While Dogger, from the same year, was about a little boy who loses his stuffed dog toy. The inspiration behind it came from a real life lost toy, she told PA in 2017. “We did look everywhere, but we never found it,” she said. “[The actual] Dogger was a present to our son when he was two-years-old.

“At that time, both his ears flopped over, but [Dogger] was pressed so lovingly against his owner’s face that one ear was pushed upwards, so when I came to do the story I used him as a model.”

Children's author Shirley Hughes dies aged 94
Hughes pictured at her desk in 2016, working on the latest Alfie book

She added: “When the book was finished, I was told it was too English to be popular abroad, however, it proved to be my big breakthrough and has been published in many different languages all over the world.”

The publication won her the Kate Greenaway Medal, awarded to “an outstanding book in terms of illustration for children and young people”.

She won it again in 2003 for Ella’s Big Chance, a reimagining of Cinderella, and was awarded the inaugural BookTrust Lifetime Achievement award in 2015 by a judging panel which included Sir Michael Morpurgo and Malorie Blackman.

“I have derived so much fulfilment from my long career, first as an illustrator of other artists’ stories and then creating my own,” she said on winning the award.

Children's author Shirley Hughes dies aged 94
Hughes alongside the Duke of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace in 2017

Hughes, who guest-edited an edition of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour in 2017, was appointed a CBE for services to Children’s Literature the same year.

She was married to architect John Vulliamy, with whom she had three children. She went on to collaborate with her daughter and fellow illustrator, Clara, on the Dixie O’Day series.

Leading the tributes to her late mother, Clara said her work would “shine brightly forever”.

Other authors and illustrators, such as Michael Rosen, have also been paying their respects online.