SHE’S the woman behind such beloved creations as The Gruffalo, Zog and Stick Man.

Now the UK’s best selling author Julia Donaldson is to appear on stage in Hampshire as some of her best loved characters.

The Gruffalo, The Witch and The Warthog features some of the stars of Room on the Broom, The Magic Paintbrush, The Ugly Five, Superworm, The Gruffalo and The Cook and the King.

It takes to the stage at Theatre Royal Winchester for three days over half term next week.

The cast of five, including Julia’s guitar-playing husband Malcolm, bring her stories to life with songs, puppetry and a touch of magic.

With The Gruffalo translated into 65 languages and sales topping 13 million, as well as her vast number of other children’s books also proving a huge international success, Julia Donaldson is one of the most successful children’s authors ever.

But, as she tells the Daily Echo, performing, busking and singing in rhymes helped her on the path to literary superstardom.

She said: “Even before I was a writer, I was a performer. And as soon as I started doing school visits and festivals, I would do stories and voices and become characters.

“But it was Rory Bremner, who had come to one of these shows with his children, who encouraged me to take it up a notch and get some direction. I didn’t actually know who he was at first, but I took his advice on board and we’ve been working with a wonderful director.”

Following a sell-out season at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Winchester dates are part of an exclusive half term run, which visits just two theatres in the South.

“We took this show to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2018 and it sold out 25 performances. It’s a lovely set and a lovely show, so we thought we’d take it out just to a couple of theatres. We’re looking forward to it.

“I know a lot of my books have been made into plays, but the way I like to do it is to include about four stories and three songs within an hour so you don’t drag out a story. I like to introduce a few characters people may not know as well as including characters from some of the better known stories. It’s rather like a rock concert where you want to introduce some new songs, but also please the audience with some of the old favourites!

It’s a rare opportunity to see Julia in the flesh as she will mainly be sticking to being a prolific writer from now on.

“I always wanted to be an actor when I was in my teens and although I do love it, I think I’ve got it out of my system with those 25 dates in a row in Edinburgh last year!

“I’ve just released a new book The Smeds and The Smoos, which is based in space and there will be a fourth Ladybird book soon, which is set at the seaside. The Hospital Dog will also be out next year.”

Julia published her first book, A Squash and a Squeeze, in 1993 when she was 45; but she’s made up for it since, in spades.She has since published over 200 books for children of all ages, poetry and some for classroom use.

She hit the jackpot in 1999 with The Gruffalo, her third book, about a clever mouse who sees off the predators in the wood - fox, owl, snake and eventually even the horned, fanged Gruffalo - by convincing them he’s the scariest creature in the wood.

Other bedtime favourites for millions of school children include The Singing Mermaid, Tiddler, The Highway Rat and Tabby McTat.

The Gruffalo, The Witch and The Warthog, which runs from Halloween Thursday October 31 to Saturday November 2, include a post-show book signing with Julia.

Tickets from 01962 840440 or