A hundred years after her birth, the power and charm of the author’s memoirs and picture books continue to win over new generations of children – and adults
The lasting influence of some children’s books is one of the ironies of literary life – when considered alongside their lowly status, and the much greater prestige associated with fiction for adults. How many bestselling novels from 1968 are as widely known today, and as well loved, as Judith Kerr’s The Tiger Who Came to Tea? Given that Kerr’s classic is still being passed from grandparent to child more than 50 years on, the answer must be: vanishingly few.
Kerr died in 2019. Were she alive, she would be 100 years old. Her anniversary is being celebrated with an animated film based on a Christmas story about her longest-running character, a chaotic tabby cat called Mog. Coincidentally, the centenary of her husband – the late sci-fi writer Nigel Kneale – has also recently been commemorated with a remake of a lost radio play, You Must Listen, aired as part of a celebration of 100 years of BBC radio drama.