I COULD SEE ME NOW
textile, but you wonder if anything good is ever going to happen in your life. You think “God, that’s another year gone and nothing has happened.”
Meeting Tom when I was 28 changed everything. It was amazing meeting someone who liked you exactly as you were. He was brilliant, and encouraged me to apply for a job as a script editor at the BBC.
I was 45 when The Tiger Who Came to Tea was published. I would never have done it if I’d not had children [Tacy Kneale, who works in the special effects industry and Matthew Kneale, a writer]. You find out all sorts of things.
My work changed slightly after Tom died. There was a gap of about a year when I couldn’t really do anything.
Because he was a writer, my books until then had been plot-driven. Without him, I went back to thinking more in pictures.
You never stop missing someone but if you’re working it makes a huge difference. Most days I draw, and I’m working on my next book.
My brother and I always agreed that our childhood was great and much better than it would have been if Hitler had never happened. That’s obviously thanks to our parents who protected us. If Hitler had never happened, I would probably still have become an illustrator, but not half as good a one. Germans just aren’t very good at children’s books.
I’m definitely British, but I’m conscious of the fact that I wasn’t born here. My son lives in Rome, and since Brexit has attained dual GermanBritish nationality. Although I’m against Brexit, I would never do that. Britain helped me, and that’s it.
When my brother and I were being a bit wild in Paris, Father would remind us we were guests in the country. But I’m a bit more than a guest in Britain now. I came here and I was given shelter. It saved my life.
Interview by Boudicca Fox-Leonard
Mummy Time by Judith Kerr is published by HarperCollins at £12.99. Order for £9.99 at books. telegraph.co.uk or call 0844 871 1514
THE CAT’S WHISKERS Judith Kerr, who reads her belovedbottom, was always fascinated by cats as a child, left, and always wanted to draw