Raymond Briggs, who is best known for the 1978 classic The Snowmanhas died aged 88.
The family of the author and illustrator – who also created Fungus The Bogeyman – said in a statement through publisher Penguin Random House that Briggs died on Tuesday, August 9.
His family said: “We know that Raymond’s books were loved and touched millions of people around the world who will be saddened to hear this news.
“Drawings from fans – especially children’s drawings – inspired by his books were treasured by Raymond and pinned to the wall of his studio.
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“He lived a rich and full life and said he felt lucky to have had both his wife Jean and his partner Liz for over 40 years.
“He shared his love of nature with Liz on walks in the South Downs and on family holidays to Scotland and Wales.
“He also shared his sense of fun and madness with his family, and with his family of artist friends – at gatherings, fancy dress parties and summer picnics in the garden.
“He played practical jokes and enjoyed having them played on him.”
The Snowman has sold more than 5.5 million copies worldwide, and Briggs also created beloved children’s books Santa Claus and Fungus The Bogeyman, and wrote a famous graphic novel about the lives of his own parentsEthel and Ernest.
Aled Jones, who sang We go in the airfor the soundtrack to the 1982 TV animation of The Snowman said: “Very sad to hear the news of the death of Raymond Briggs. I will pay tribute to ClassicFM at 10 this morning. Thoughts and love to his family.”
Born in Wimbledon in 1934, Briggs studied at Wimbledon School of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art before briefly taking up painting.
After becoming a professional illustrator, he worked and taught illustration at Brighton College of Art.
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In 1966 he won the Kate Greenaway Medal for his illustration work on a book of nursery rhymes, The Mother Goose Treasury.
His most famous works were published between 1973 and 1984 and also included Santa Claus goes on vacation and The Tin-Pot Foreign General and the Old Iron Woman.
Hans won numerous awards throughout his career, including the Kurt Maschler Award, The Children’s Book of the Year, Dutch Silver Pen Award.
In February 2017, Raymond was honored with the BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award, and the trust responded to the news of his death by tweeting: “He will live on in his wonderful, iconic books.”
He was made a CBE for services to literature in the same year.
Francesca Dow, CEO of Penguin Random House Children’s, said: “Raymond’s books are pictorial masterpieces that address some of the fundamental questions of what it is to be human, speaking to both adults and children with a remarkable economy of words and illustrations.
“Raymond is probably best known for The Snowman. Perhaps he needed more freedom than the standard 32-page picture book format allowed and created a radical and beautiful innovation: a wordless picture book for children, a storyboard with still images that immediately became a classic in its own right, as well as the much-loved animation.”
Dow said Briggs had been “unique” and had “inspired generations of creators of picture books, graphic novels and animation”.
She added: “He leaves an extraordinary legacy and a huge hole.”
Briggs’ literary agent, Hilary Delamere, added: “Raymond enjoyed playing the professional curmudgeon, but we will remember him for his stories of love and loss.
“I know from the many letters he received how his books and animations touched people’s hearts.”
TV gardener Monty Don tweeted: “Thank you Raymond Briggs for a life’s work that wonderfully celebrates the rich seam of very English pessimism. You enriched so many of our lives.”
Labor Deputy Leader Angela Rayner added: “Raymond Briggs brought so much magic and joy to so many.
“Rest in peace. And thanks for the memories.”
Author Tony Parsons tweeted: “Raymond Briggs saw over a billion childhoods. Thank you so much and rest in peace and in our hearts forever.”
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Briggs is survived by his stepdaughter Clare and her husband Fynn; his stepson Tom and his wife Sarah, and his three step-grandchildren.
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