Author and illustrator Raymond Briggs, best known for creating The Snowman, has died aged 88.
His family said in a statement that he died on Tuesday morning.
The Snowman was first released as a picture book in 1978, selling more than 5.5 million copies around the world, and was turned into a beloved TV adaptation.
Briggs was also the creator of the classics Fungus the Bogeyman and Father Christmas.
“We know that Raymond’s books were loved by and touched millions of people around the world, who will be sad to hear this news,” his family said in a statement. “Drawings from fans – especially children’s drawings – inspired by his books were treasured by Raymond and pinned up on the wall of his studio.”
Born in London’s Wimbledon district, Briggs fell in love with illustrations while in grammar school. He attended a number of schools focused on art including UCL Slade School of Fine Art, a top-ranked art school at University College, London.
Briggs also taught students about illustration at Brighton School of Art, including three-time Kate Greenway Medal winner Chris Riddell. The award honors illustrations in children’s books every year. It’s an award Briggs won twice.
The Snowman, a book without words, depicts the story of a snowman that comes to life after a boy makes it. The tale later found an audience in the form of a cartoon that featured an introduction from rock legend David Bowie.
The book, and its accompanying film, were beloved classics in the lead up to Christmas and received an Academy Award nomination in 1982. The British Film Institute named “The Snowman” to its “100 Greatest British Television Programmes” in 2000.
“The Snowman and the Snowdog,” a 2012 sequel to the 1982 cartoon, was dedicated to the original’s producer, John Coates. The film also inspired a video game as well as plays.
Briggs, whose wife Jean died from leukemia in 1973, spent his later years living in Westmeston, Sussex. He also shared a home with his partner Liz, who died in 2015 after a battle with Parkinson’s disease, and her family.
“He lived a rich and full life, and said he felt lucky to have had both his wife Jean, and his partner of over 40 years Liz in his life. He shared his love of nature with Liz on South Downs walks and on family holidays to Scotland and Wales,” the family stated.
Briggs was particularly known for his sense of humor.
“He played practical jokes and enjoyed them being played on him. All of us close to him knew his irreverent humor – this could be biting in his work when it came to those in power. He liked the Guardian editorial describing himself as an ‘iconoclastic national treasure,’” the family added.
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