I’ve been away at the Frankfurt Book Fair, so it was only this evening, while I was half-listening to Radio 4, that I picked up the news that Helen Nicholl, the brilliant author of the Meg and Mog books, and audio entrepreneur (she published, for example, the audio versions of J K Rowling’s Harry Potter books), has died, aged 74.
Here’s The Telegraph’s obituary.
And Here’s The Guardian’s obituary.
And, finally, here, for the next week, I think, you can hear BBC 4’s Last Word’s obituary of her, including Jan Pienkowski’s memories of her (Jan is pictured with her in the photo illustrating this post).
The bold simplicity of both the text and the illustrations (by Jan Pienkowski) of Meg and Mog are remarkable, and, though the aesthetic is very much informed by its 70s origin, the books have stood the test of time. They were not only favourites of my own children, but were the basis of TV and stage shows too. You can see at least some of the TV shows on YouTube.
I also find the combination of entrepreneurial acumen and commitment to integrity that she demonstrated in the creation and effective running of Cover to Cover, her audio books venture, truly admirable.
I never met her, but I sold rights in her books, and have had the privilege of meeting Jan Pienkowski several times.
If you don’t know the Meg and Mog books, and are interested in picture books that are for really young children, then this coming Hallowe’en season might be a good time to discover them.