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Jill Murphy (born 5 July 1949) is an English writer and illustrator of children's books, best known for the Worst Witch novels and the "Large Family" picture books. She has been called "one of the most engaging writers and illustrators for children in the land".
Born in London, Murphy showed an interest in writing and drawing at age six; although not excelling in other school subjects she had made her own enormous library of hand-written and illustrated books while still at primary school. She enjoyed reading boarding school stories, which provided material and inspiration for Miss Cackle's Academy in the Worst Witch series, as did the Ursuline High School, Wimbledon, which she attended She grew up a Roman Catholic, but she is no longer practising. Her stay-at-home mother was a "book maniac" and her father was an Irish engineer.
Murphy started to write The Worst Witch while still at school, but put the book on hold while she attended Chelsea and Croydon Art Schools. She continued to write it during a year living in a village in Togo, West Africa and later while working as a nanny back in the UK. The book was published by Allison & Busby when Murphy was 24 and proved an instant success. Murphy continued working as a nanny until the publication of The Worst Witch Strikes Again prompted her to devote herself to writing full-time.
She gave birth to her son Charlie in spring 1990.
The Worst Witch stories have become some of the most successful titles on the Young Puffin paperback list and have sold more than 3 million copies. They were also made into a successful ITV series, airing on CITV between 1998 and 2001.
Murphy is also known for picture books, especially the "Large Family" series, which detail the domestic chaos of an elephant family. For the second book, All in One Piece (1987), she was a commended runner-up for the Greenaway Medal from the British Library Association, recognising the year's best children's book by a British subject (the second of her two commendations).[a] The "Large Family" is now a TV series on CBeebies and ABC Kids. In 1996 The Last Noo-Noo was adapted as a play and performed at the Polka Theatre, London.
|1980||Peace at Last||Kate Greenaway Medal —the British Library Association annual award for children's book illustration||Commended[a]|
|1986||Five Minutes' Peace||Children's Book Award||Shortlisted|
|1987||Five Minutes' Peace||Parents Magazine Best Books for Babies Award||Winner|
|1987||All In One Piece||Kate Greenaway Medal||Commended[a]|
|1987||All In One Piece||Children's Book Award||Shortlisted|
|1994||A Quiet Night In||Kate Greenaway Medal||Shortlisted|
|1995||The Last Noo-Noo||Smarties Prize (ages 0–5)||Winner|
|1995||The Last Noo-Noo||English 4-11 Outstanding Children's Book of the Year||Shortlisted|
|1996||The Last Noo-Noo||Sheffield Children's Book Award||Winner|
|1996||The Last Noo-Noo||Gateshead Gold Award||Winner|
Main article: The Worst Witch
Main article: The Large Family
- Today there are usually eight books on the Greenaway Medal shortlist. According to CCSU, some runners-up were Commended (from 1959) or Highly Commended (from 1974). There were 99 distinctions of both kinds in 44 years including three for 1980 and three for 1987 (one highly commended).
- Kellaway, Kate (30 October 2005). "The witch is back in town" (review of The Worst Witch Saves the Day). The Observer. Retrieved 2008-04-17.
- "Jill Murphy: Biography". Images of Delight: Original artwork from children's book illustrators. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2008-04-17.
- Craig, A (16 October 2005). "Parenting: The Longest Goodbye". The Times (London). Retrieved 2008-04-17.
- Kingshill, Katie (7 September 2011). "Clive Allison: Publisher whose eclectic imprint was in the vanguard of independent houses" (obituary). The Independent.
- "Kate Greenaway Medal". 2007(?). Curriculum Lab. Elihu Burritt Library. Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). Retrieved 2012-06-26.
- "Postgraduate Awards Day". 2007 news archive. Combined Universities in Cornwall. 2007. Retrieved 2008-09-17.
- Jill Murphy at Walker Books
- Jill Murphy at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Jill Murphy, 1949– at Library of Congress Authorities, with 28 catalogue records (under 'Murphy, Jill' without '1949–')