Mairi Hedderwick

2 May 1939 –

Illustrator and Author

Mairi Hedderwick is a Scottish illustrator and author, best known for the Katie Morag series of children's picture books set on the Isle of Struay, a fictional counterpart of the real-life inner Hebridean island of Coll where Hedderwick has lived at various times for much of her life.

She has also written several books of travel writing for adults, and is the illustrator of a growing range of Hebridean stationery.

Mairi Crawford Lindsay was born in Gourock on 2 May 1939, the daughter of Douglas Lindsay, an architect who died suddenly when she was thirteen.

She was educated at Gourock primary school and then at the independent St Columba's School for Girls in nearby Kilmacolm.

 In 1957, she went to Edinburgh College of Art, studying mural painting and ceramics, where she noticed an advertisement for a mother's help on the Isle of Coll. She went to the island for the first time that year, and then came back every summer of her student vacations.

After graduating she married Ronnie Hedderwick on 24 June 1962, and worked for two years as a travelling art teacher in Mid Argyll, qualifying at Jordanhill College of Education.

A visitor she met on the beach one day turned out to be an editor at Macmillan Books; showing off the nearby house full of her watercolours, she was soon signed up as a contract illustrator for the company, winning an in-house contest to illustrate a version by Rumer Godden of The Old Woman who lived in a Vinegar Bottle (1972) and then three children's books featuring Janet Reachfar by the established Scottish author Jane Duncan.

After Jane Duncan died in 1976, Hedderwick was encouraged by her editor to take the plunge and write and illustrate her own stories. However it was not until 1984, three publishers later, that the first of Hedderwick's Katie Morag stories, Katie Morag Delivers the Mail, finally appeared in print inspired by her time on Coll. The book was well received, and three more Katie Morag picturebooks rapidly followed in the next three years.

As well as the Katie Morag series for which she is best known, which now runs to fourteen books and various omnibus collections, Mairi has written and illustrated an number of other books.

In addition to her work for children, Mairi Hedderwick has produced several volumes of travel writing, accompanied by drawings and watercolour sketches, reflecting in often quite personal terms her feelings and experiences on four long Scottish journeys.

Since 2005, the Scottish publisher Birlinn have published a steadily growing series of hardback stationery illustrated by Hedderwick.

Hedderwick was awarded an honorary degree from Stirling University in 2003, in recognition of "her outstanding contribution to writing and illustration in Scotland, especially for children".

To make your own nomination download the nomination form here