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Jill Murphy, the beloved children’s author and illustrator known for creating The Worst Witch, has died of cancer aged 72.
The author’s most recent book, Just One Of Those Days, was published in September last year.
Her son Charlie Murphy said in a statement: “I feel beyond lucky to have had a mum like mine, and it’s impossible to summarise the ways her absence will be felt.”
Murphy wrote the first Worst Witch book when she was just 18 – it was published in 1974. The most recent and eighth instalment in the popular children’s series was released in 2018.
The books were first adapted for TV in 1986 and there have been two subsequent series – one made in the 1990s and another that ran during the 2010s. The books were also adapted for the stage.
Pamela Todd, Murphy’s friend and agent for more than 30 years, said: “It’s a sad day for children’s books. Jill was so creative, beautiful and funny.
“Her genius lay in the way both the child and the adult could identify with her stories, which she wrote and illustrated herself.
“Children who grew up on Peace At Last, Whatever Next! and The Large Family are now buying the books for their children’s children.
“The little girls who created playground games around Mildred Hubble and her classmates are now directing, producing and acting in the television series of The Worst Witch and the stage show, which last year took the Olivier award.
“Jill was just coming into her prime and had so much more to offer. This is a great loss, not least to me personally, but we are comforted that she leaves an amazing legacy of books for generations to come.”
Belinda Ioni Rasmussen, managing director of Macmillan Children’s Books, added: “She had an unparalleled talent for storytelling through words and pictures.
“Without doubt, her picture books have become timeless children’s classics.”