Judith Kerr

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Judith Kerr (2016)

Judith Kerr OBE (born June 14, 1923 in Berlin ; † May 22, 2019 in London ) was a British illustrator and writer of German origin. In Germany she was best known for her youth books, in which she describes the story of her Jewish family's flight from Nazi Germany and life in exile .


Judith Kerr was the daughter of the theater critic Alfred Kerr and his wife Julia , nee Weißmann, and the sister of Michael Kerr . In 1933, as they were persecuted in Germany, the Kerr family fled via Switzerland to France , where Judith attended school for two years and learned French. In 1935 the family moved to England , where they initially lived in a small hotel in London.

Kerr attended the Central School of Arts and Crafts . During the Second World War she worked for the Red Cross . After the war, Kerr worked as an editor and proofreader for the BBC , where she met her husband, British television writer Nigel Kneale , to whom she was married from 1954 until his death in 2006. As a freelance painter and text designer, she also illustrated numerous children's books, including A Tiger Comes to Tea , which she wrote herself .

Her children are actress and painter Tacy Kneale and writer Matthew Kneale .

Judith Kerr was a member of the PEN Center Germany . She had lived in London since 1935, where she died in May 2019 at the age of 95 after a brief illness.

Writing activity

In 1971, Kerr published Als Hitler Stole the Pink Rabbit . Here, as in the two following books, Waiting for Peace Comes (1975) and A Kind of Family Reunion (1979), she described her family's escape from National Socialist Germany.

In addition to these three novels, Kerr published other stories in England, not all of which were published in Germany, but mainly picture books that she illustrated, including 17 volumes with stories about the cat Mog. She also worked as a writer for the BBC in London and published in English .

In England she became famous for her picture books, most notably A Tiger Comes to Tea (1968), which was filmed in 2019 , and the series with the cat Mog. She says she loved telling stories through pictures. In words, she was not only economical out of consideration for the difficulties of learning to read, but this was also due to stylistic ideals from her childhood, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer . She named the children's author Dr. Seuss .

During her lifetime, Kerr's books were translated into 25 languages ​​and sold a total of over ten million copies.

Works (selection)

When Hitler stole the pink rabbit (2002 edition, without the title drawing by Judith Kerr)
Buddy Bear in front of the Judith Kerr School in Berlin-Schmargendorf

Pink rabbit trilogy


  • Mog, the Forgetful Cat (Mog the forgetful cat) . Maier, Ravensburg 1977 (1st edition), ISBN 978-3-473-33633-3
  • Mog and the Baby (Mog and the Baby) . Maier, Ravensburg, 1981 (1st edition), ISBN 978-3-473-33652-4
  • Mog celebrates Christmas. Maier, Ravensburg 1983
  • A tiger comes to tea (The Tiger who came to tea). Maier, Ravensburg 1990 (1st edition 1979), ISBN 3-473-33641-6 .
  • An awakened childhood. Argon, Berlin 1990.
  • ... and then the ark was gone (When Mrs. Monkey lost the ark). Maier, Ravensburg 1993, ISBN 3-473-33479-0 .
  • Judith Kerr's Creatures. Harper Collins Children's Books, London 2013.
  • A seal for Mr. Albert. S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2016, ISBN 978-3-7373-5445-5 .
  • Katinka's Tail. Harper Collins, London 2017.
  • The Curse of the School Rabbit. Harper Collins, London 2019.


Kerr has received many awards for her books; Among other things, she received the German Youth Literature Prize in 1974 for When Hitler Stole the Pink Rabbit .

The Judith Kerr Primary School in London and Judith Kerr Elementary School in Berlin-Schmargendorf bear her name.

In 2012, Kerr was named Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to children's literature and holocaust education .

On December 25, 2019, the film As Hitler stole the pink rabbit by director Caroline Link was released in German cinemas.


Web links

Commons : Judith Kerr  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Thomas Kielinger : "I am not a writer" . Interview in: The Literary World , June 8, 2013, p. 7
  2. Deborah Vietor-English: Alfred Kerr. The biography. Rowohlt, Reinbek 2016.
  3. Claire Armitstead: Judith Kerr, beloved author of The Tiger Who Came to Tea, dies aged 95. theguardian.com, published and accessed on May 23, 2019
  4. a b c d Lothar Müller: The red room. How to make few words and say a lot. An encounter with the children's book author Judith Kerr in Berlin. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung , No. 216, 17./18. September 2016, p. 21.
  5. Obituary: Judith Kerr died on May 23rd. The Economist, June 6, 2019, accessed June 12, 2019
  6. OBE , thegazette.co.uk, June 16, 2012, accessed May 23, 2019