The Worst Witch and Large family author, Jill Murphy dies at 72

Children’s author and illustrator Jill Murphy, who produced the beloved Worst Witch books, has died at the age of 72.

Jill Murphy Dead
Jill Murphy Dead

Jill Murphy also put out picture books, including the Large family series Peace at Last and The Last Noo-Noo.

Belinda Ioni Rasmussen, managing director of Macmillan Children’s Books, stated: “She had an unparalleled talent for storytelling through words and pictures. Without doubt, her picture books have become timeless children’s classics.”

Murphy wrote the first Worst Witch novel, which charted the exploits of Mildred Hubble at witch school at the age of 18, and it was printed in 1974. The eighth and the latest came out in 2018. The books were converted into a TV film in 1986 and two TV series in the 1990s and 2010s.

In a statement, her son Charlie stated: “I feel beyond lucky to have had a mum like mine, and it’s impossible to summarize the ways her absence will be felt. She had a depth of character, warmth and a life force like no other. I miss her so much already.”

As per the publisher, Murphy died of cancer on Wednesday. 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.”


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