'There would be no Gruffalo without the EU', says illustrator Axel Scheffler

Axel Scheffler said he would never have drawn The Gruffalo if he had not left Germany to come to the UK

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The Independent Culture

The Gruffalo would not exist if Britain was not in the European Union, according to Axel Scheffler, the illustrator of the bestselling children's books. 

In a blog post for his publisher Nosy Crow, Mr Scheffler said he would never have drawn The Gruffalo if he had not left his native Germany to come to the UK.

He drew a picture of a mouse holding the EU flag to accompany the blog post, entitled "Without the EU, there would be no Gruffalo".

"So without British membership of the EU, millions of British children would have grown up without The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom’s witch, and Stickman – at least in their existing forms," he wrote. 

"The Gruffalo and all the other books I’ve illustrated would not have contributed to the British economy, creating jobs and revenue.

"Just unravelling the story of one “British product”, The Gruffalo, shows that Britain’s engagement with Europe is not simply a political issue, but an economic and cultural one."

After coming to the UK in 1982 to study illustration, Mr Scheffler met Julia Donaldson, who wrote the text for the famous books.

“I honestly wouldn’t have considered it if it hadn’t been so easy,” he told BuzzFeed News. “It was just easy, I didn’t have to apply for a visa, it’s alright for Europeans to live and study wherever we want.

"Without the EU I wouldn’t have been here and there wouldn’t have the been the Gruffalo in current form.”

He concludes his blog post by writing: "I know that I am just an illustrator, but I felt that, given my experience of being a German who feels at home here in the UK, I have an obligation to speak out, and given the global popularity of the books I have illustrated while I have lived in this country, maybe someone will listen to me.

"An open, united and peaceful Europe enriches us all. We have so much to lose by taking wrong decisions."