British author Helen Nicoll, creator of the immensely popular Meg and Mog series of children’s books about a witch and her cat, died September 30. The Wiltshire, England resident was 74.
In 2003, her picture books, illustrated by Jan Pienkowski, were adapted into the 52-episode Meg and Mog animated TV series. Meg was voiced by Kay Ripley, Mog by Phil Cornwell and Owl by Alan Bennett.
The first pre-school animated series from Absolutely Productions, the show aired on CiTV. It was nominated for the Children’s BAFTA Award for Best Pre-School Animation in 2006.
The author was born Helen Morag Nicoll in Natland, Westmoreland, England on October 10, 1937. Nicoll was educated at schools in Bristol; Dartington Hall, Devon; and Froebel Education Institute, London.
Nicoll was a television producer with the British Broadcasting Corporation for many years. It was there, as producer of the children’s educational series Watch, that she first met Pienkowski. After working together for four years, they decided that it was time to preserve their creativity in book form for future generations of children to enjoy. Eventually, the two worked together for over 20 years, first at the BBC and then on the Meg and Mog titles.
In addition to the Meg and Mog series, Nicoll had a long and varied association with publisher Puffin — as editor of the Junior Puffin magazine The Egg from 1977 to 1979; as compiler of the popular children’s poetry anthology Poems for Seven Year Olds and Under, illustrated by Michael Foreman; and, through her partnership with Puffin, the enormously popular series of Puffin Cover to Cover story tapes, of which she was the producer.
Cover to Cover Cassettes, a company that Nicoll founded, specializes in the production of complete and unabridged readings on audio cassette of 19th-century classics and children’s books. Favorite Puffin stories are read by famous actors and actresses with the addition of music and sound effects.
Helen Nicoll married interior designer and antique dealer Robert Kime in 1970. Besides her husband, she is survived by their children, Hannah and Tom.