Judith Kerr

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Judith Kerr
Born Anna Judith Gertrud Helene Kerr[1]
(1923-06-14) 14 June 1923 (age 93)
Berlin, Germany
Genre Children's and young adult fiction
Notable works The Tiger Who Came to Tea, the Mog series, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit
Spouse Nigel Kneale
(1954–2006, his death)
Children Matthew Kneale
Tacy Kneale

Judith Kerr, OBE (surname pronounced /ˈkɑːr/ KAR German pronunciation: [kɛʁ];[2] born 14 June 1923) is a British writer and illustrator. She has created both enduring picture books such as the Mog series and The Tiger Who Came to Tea and acclaimed novels for older children such as the semi-autobiographical When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit which give a child's-eye view of the Second World War. Born in Germany, of Jewish background, she came to Britain with her family in 1933 amid the rise of the Nazis.


Kerr was born in Berlin, the daughter of Alfred Kerr (1867–1948), a German-Jewish theatre critic who had changed his name from Kempner to Kerr in 1887, by his marriage to Julia Weismann (de) (1898-1965),[3][4] the daughter of a Prussian politician. Judith Kerr had a brother, Michael.

In 1933, just before the Nazis came to power, the family left Germany, fearful because Alfred Kerr had openly criticised the Nazis.[5] Alfred Kerr's books were burned by the Nazis shortly after he fled Germany. The family travelled first to Switzerland and then on to France, before finally settling in Britain, where Judith Kerr has lived ever since. She subsequently became a naturalised British subject.

Life in London[edit]

During the Second World War, Judith Kerr worked for the Red Cross, helping wounded soldiers, before being awarded a scholarship to study at the Central School of Arts and Crafts and becoming an artist. She was later prompted by her future husband – screenwriter Nigel Kneale – to apply for a job as a BBC television scriptwriter. She got the job and she and Kneale were married in 1954; they remained married until Kneale's death in 2006. They had two children: their son Matthew Kneale is also a writer, winning the Book of the Year prize at the Whitbread Book Awards in 2000 for the novel English Passengers.[6] Their daughter, Tacy Kneale, works in the special effects industry, and worked on the Harry Potter films. Tacy plans also to write children's books.[citation needed]


Kerr is best known for her children's books. Although she dreamed of being a famous writer as a child, she only started writing and drawing books when her own children were learning to read.[6] She has written self-illustrated picture titles such as the 17-strong Mog series and the highly successful[6] The Tiger Who Came to Tea. She has written novels for children such as the semi-autobiographical Out of the Hitler Time trilogy (When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, Bombs on Aunt Dainty (originally published as The Other Way Round) and A Small Person Far Away), tell the story of the rise of the Nazis in 1930s Germany and life as a refugee, life in Britain during World War II and life during the post war years and the Cold War respectively, from a child's perspective.[7] Again it was her children that occasioned this writing: when her son was eight he saw The Sound of Music and remarked "now we know what it was like when Mummy was a little girl". Kerr wanted him to know what it was really like and so wrote When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit.[8]

Kerr lives in Barnes, London, the same house she has lived in since 1962.[6] She says that since the death of her husband writing has become more important than ever[6] and she continues to write and illustrate new children's books with Twinkles, Arthur and Puss published in 2008 and One Night in the Zoo in 2009.

She won the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis in 1974 for her young adult novel When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit.

Kerr was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to children's literature and Holocaust education.[9][10]


In 2013, Britain's first bilingual school in English and German, the Judith Kerr Primary School (de) in Herne Hill, south London, was named after her.[11][12]


  • The Tiger Who Came to Tea (1968)
  • The Mog series:
    • Mog the Forgetful Cat (1970)
    • Mog's Christmas (1976)
    • Mog and the Baby (1980)
    • Mog in the Dark (1983)
    • Mog and Me (1984)
    • Mog's Family of Cats (1985)
    • Mog's Amazing Birthday Caper (1986)
    • Mog and Bunny (1988)
    • Mog and Barnaby (1991)
    • Look Out, Mog (1991)
    • Mog on Fox Night (1993)
    • Mog in the Garden (1994)
    • Mog's Kittens (1994)
    • Mog and the Granny (1995)
    • Mog and the Vee Ee Tee (1996)
    • Mog's Bad Thing (2000)
    • Goodbye, Mog (2002)
    • Mog's Christmas Calamity (2015)
  • The "Out of the Hitler Time" trilogy:
    • When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (1971)
    • The Other Way Round (1975) (later reissued as Bombs on Aunt Dainty)
    • A Small Person Far Away (1987)
Other books
  • When Willy Went to the Wedding (1973)
  • How Mrs Monkey Missed the Ark (1996)
  • Birdie Halleluyah! (1998)
  • The Other Goose (2001)
  • Goose in a Hole (2005)
  • Twinkles, Arthur and Puss (2008)
  • One Night in the Zoo (2009)
  • My Henry (2011)
  • The Great Granny Gang (2012)
  • Judith Kerr's Creatures (2013)
  • The Crocodile Under the Bed (2014)
  • Mr Cleghorn's Seal (2015)


  1. ^ As Far As I Remember (paperback ed.). Hart Publishing. 2002. p. 23. ISBN 1-84113-565-8. 
  2. ^ As Far As I Remember (paperback ed.). Hart Publishing. 2002. p. 5. ISBN 1-84113-565-8. 
  3. ^ "Alfred Kerr - Centenary of his birth" (PDF). AJR ... "Unfortunately, Julia Kerr, who had done so much for her late husband, passed away suddenly in October 1965.". Association of Jewish refugees in Great Britain. December 1967. p. 5. Retrieved 8 March 2016. 
  4. ^ "JULIA KERR. Kerr, Julia - Composer, Germany *1898-1965+". The source includes a photo-portrait of Julia Kerr. Granger - Historical Picture Archive. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  5. ^ Brown, Helen (3 November 2007). "Judith Kerr:'Cats are very interesting people'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 24 September 2008. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Guest, Katy (6 September 2009). "Judith Kerr: If Carlsberg made grannies...". The Independent. Retrieved 6 September 2009. 
  7. ^ Armitstead, Claire (29 November 2008). "Tiger! Tiger! burning bright – interview with Judith Kerr, author of The Tiger Who Came to Tea". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 September 2009. 
  8. ^ O'Brien, Catherine (11 August 2004). "Love etc". The Times. Retrieved 6 September 2009. 
  9. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60173. p. 23. 16 June 2012.
  10. ^ "OBE". Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  11. ^ "Auf Wiedersehn, pupils: UK's first Anglo/German state primary school opens". The Independent newspaper. 16 October 2013. Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  12. ^ "Our Patron Judith Kerr". Judith Kerr Primary School. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 

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