The author and illustrator Raymond Briggs, best-known for his 1978 children’s picture book The Snowman, has died aged 88.
Briggs came to Brighton in 1961 to teach illustration part-time at Brighton School of Art, later Brighton Polytechnic and now Brighton University.
He taught there until 1986 and his students included Chris Riddell, who went also on to become a children’s author as well as the political cartoonist for the Observer newspaper.
The Snowman, which was turned into a film, features familiar Brighton scenes as well as scenes from closer to Briggs home in the village of Westmeston, between Ditchling and Plumpton.
Briggs, who also wrote Father Christmas, Fungus the Bogeyman and When the Wind Blows, died yesterday morning (Tuesday 9 August), his family said.
A statement from his family said: “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.
“Drawings from fans – especially children’s drawings – inspired by his books were treasured by Raymond and pinned up on the wall of his studio.
“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. He also shared his sense of fun and craziness with his family and with his family of artist friends – at get-togethers, fancy dress parties and summer picnics in the garden.
“He played practical jokes and enjoyed them being played on him. All of us close to him knew his irreverent humour – 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’.”
Childline president Dame Esther Rantzen said that she got to know Briggs when he allowed the use of his Fungus the Bogeyman character on a badge to raise money for the charity.
She told the PA news agency: “It was incredibly generous and raised a great deal of money. His unique talent with the stories he told and the unforgettable characters like the Snowman and the poignancy of his stories will always be remembered and will resonate with children.
“I don’t think many people realise – because he was quite a modest, shy man – how incredibly generous and compassionate he was, and we at Childline will always be incredibly grateful to him, as will the children he helped.”
Children’s authors Michael Rosen and Cressida Cowell were among those paying tribute to Briggs.
Rosen, the former Children’s Laureate who wrote We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, tweeted: “Raymond Briggs … RIP xxxx. You are fantastic.”
How To Train Your Dragon author, Cowell, a fellow former Children’s Laureate, tweeted: “Deeply sad to hear of the death of Raymond Briggs.
“What a magnificent legacy he leaves, from his iconic Father Christmas and the Snowman to the terrifying Where the Wind Blows.
“His books brought so much joy and inspired so many, touching, hilarious and heartbreaking work. RIP.”
Briggs told his own life story in a book about his parents, Ethel and Ernest, which was later also turned into a film.
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