THE AUTHOR and illustrator of classic children's picture book The Snowman, Raymond Briggs, has died at the age of 88.
The Snowman sold more than 5.5 million copies around the world since its publication in 1978 and in 1982 was adapted into a short film that is enjoyed by millions each Christmas.
Briggs also created and enjoyed huge success with children's books Father Christmas and Fungus The Bogeyman.
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."
Francesca Dow, Managing Director of Penguin Random House said Raymond "was a brilliantly observant, funny storyteller, honest about how life is rather than how adults might with to tell it to children."
"A kindness, integrity, and generosity run through all his books.
"And so in life: Raymond was a generous, unjealous spirit who was a pleasure to work with, as well as to visit in his Sussex cottage and experience his teasing genius in its home. I will miss him. He leaves an extraordinary legacy and a big hole."