Judith Kerr OBE

Judith Kerr was born in Berlin as the daughter of an influential Jewish writer and theatre critic. Her family left Germany in 1933 just before the Nazis first came to power after a tip-off from a policeman that their passports were about to be seized. Alfred Kerr had openly criticised the Nazi regime, and they later publicly burned his books.

The family travelled first to Switzerland and then on into France, before finally settling in Britain. Judith has lived in the same house in London since 1962.

The tiger who came to tea
“The tiger who came to tea” by Walt Jabsco licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

When teaching her two children to read English Judith became frustrated with the lack of literature available for this purpose and wrote The Tiger Who Came to Tea (1968) as a way of helping her children to read but also as a means of telling the story of her family. It began as a bedtime story for her three-year-old daughter and has never since been out of print.

Her other autobiographical illustrated novels When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit and The Other Way Round tell the story of the rise of the Nazis in 1930s Germany from a child’s perspective, and have sold well globally as well as in Germany as a way of explaining a difficult period of time to children. She’s also written and illustrated 17 books in the Mog series, and many other popular titles.

In 2011 she was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to children’s literature and Holocaust education.