My Secret Life: Shirley Hughes, 85, author and illustrator

'Life is unfailingly interesting'

My parents were… My dad was TJ Hughes, who owned a department store of the same name in Liverpool; my mum met him when he was serving in the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War.

The household I grew up in… After my dad's early death, my mum brought me and my two older sisters up, so we were an all-female household.

When I was a child I wanted to be… an illustrator, though I never dreamt I could be one professionally.

If I could change one thing about myself… it would be not to worry about things unnecessarily.

You wouldn't know it but I am very good at… dress-making; I make a lot of my own clothes.

At night I dream of… trying to find my way home in some hostile, crowded place. It's absolutely horrible.

I wish I had never worn… mini-skirts.

What I see when I look in the mirror… An arty old lady.

My favourite item of clothing… Hats. I have a collection of large-brimmed hats.

It's not fashionable but I like… trifle. We have it on Boxing Day. It should be fashionable. It's delicious.

I drive/ride… Nothing. I walk everywhere or take a bus or cab.

My house is… the same house in Notting Hill which I have lived in since 1954. It's full of so many memories and so much stuff that I don't know what to do with.

My favourite work of art… Rembrandt's etching, Christ Presented to the People, first version, before he wiped off the crowd of onlookers. It's in the British Museum.

My favourite building… The National Gallery at Trafalgar Square. It's full of paintings I love looking at and I like the way it commands the Square.

A book that changed me… Kenneth Clark's Civilisation, because it opened my eyes and gave me the confidence to look at art.

Movie heaven… Some Like It Hot: Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon.

My greatest regret… I don't go in for them… like Edith Piaf.

My secret crush… Jon Hamm in Mad Men. Those sharp suits, my God. Thrilling.

My real-life villains… Person or persons who a) try to make a less confident person look silly, or b) don't bother to clear up their dog's mess.

The person who really makes me laugh… My grandchildren.

My five-year plan… To do lots more stuff in my sketch book, weather permitting.

What's the point? To be a better human being.

My life in six words… Unfailingly interesting, inspired by family life.

A life in brief

Shirley Hughes was born in the Wirral in 1927. She studied at Liverpool Art School and the Ruskin School of Fine Art, Oxford. She married John Vulliamy, an architect, and worked as a freelance illustrator before writing and designing her own books. She has published more than 60 titles, including Dogger and the 'Alfie' series. She has three children: Ed Vulliamy, a journalist, Tom, a scientist, and Clara, an illustrator. Her book, Alfie's Shop, is one of eight £1 titles released for World Book Day on Thursday

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£36000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before