11th August 1938 – 27th July 1995
If anyone ever had a hard word to say about Charles Shirley then it never came BfK’s way. He enchanted everyone who knew him, personally and professionally.
Best known, in recent years, for being managing director of Ragged Bears, the publishing firm he founded in 1984 with his wife Pamela, he spent more than three decades in publishing. He joined Associated Book Publishers in 1964 where his responsibilities eventually included Winnie-the-Pooh, Tintin, Babar and Dick Bruna’s Miffy. His flair, though, included a healthy maverick streak – he pioneered the selling of children’s books in unconventional venues, for instance.
Perhaps it was inevitable, then, that he should leave ABP, at the height of his career as group marketing director, to set up as an independent publisher in Ragged Appleshaw, Hampshire. By the time of his death, after a three year battle with cancer borne with grace, fortitude and humour, Ragged Bears had achieved an impressive list and a twomillion pound turnover.
He’ll be sorely missed and long remembered – not least, as a rare and resonant example that sometimes, after all, a nice guy can also be a winner.