Raymond Briggs, author and illustrator of ‘The Snowman’, dies at 88

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LONDON — Raymond Briggs, the British author and illustrator best known for creating the immensely popular wordless picture book ‘The Snowman’, died on August 9. He was 88 years old.

His death was announced by his family and by his publisher, Penguin Random House. Mr Briggs had been hospitalized in Brighton, England, but further details were not immediately available.

Mr. Briggs showed a keen interest in illustration from an early age and rose to fame after creating “The Snowman”. which was first published in 1978. The book, which uses only images to tell the story of a boy who makes a snowman that comes to life, has sold over 5.5 million copies in the world.

‘The Snowman’ was later made into an Oscar-nominated and BAFTA-winning film, featuring the song ‘Walking in the Air’ sung by Aled Jones, which became the soundtrack to the cartoon – and Christmas in Great Britain. Britain, where it has aired every year since 1982.

“I still watch The Snowman every year and it still hits my heart every time,” read one of the many tweets praising Mr. Briggs and his legacy.

Mr Briggs’ publisher praised him for inspiring “generations of picture book, graphic novel and animation creators”. Francesca Dow, managing director of Penguin Random House Children’s Books, said Mr Briggs’ death leaves a “big hole” in the industry.

In a tweetillustrator Rob Biddulph described Mr Briggs as “a titan in our industry and a true one-off”.

“The Snowman was a work of undeniable genius,” he wrote, “a game-changer, not just in the world of children’s books, but books, period.”

In 1983, “The Snowman” was nominated for the Oscar for best short film. He went on to win a BAFTA. A year later, David Bowie recorded a special introduction to animation.

Raymond Redvers Briggs was born in Wimbledon, London on January 18, 1934. He studied at the Wimbledon School of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art, both in London, before working in advertising and then starting his career as a book illustrator. .

In 2017, Mr Briggs won a lifetime achievement award from BookTrust, a UK reading charity, for his outstanding contribution to children’s literature.

His best-known books, in addition to “The Snowman,” included “Santa Claus,” “Fungus the Bogeyman,” and “Ug: Boy Genius of the Stone Age.”

Hilary Delamere, Mr Briggs’ literary agent, said in a statement that he would be remembered for his stories of “love and loss”. His last book, “Time for Lights Out”, was a collection of thoughts, poems, sketches and observations.

“From the many letters he has received, I know how much his books and animations have touched people’s hearts,” Delamere said, while his family added, “The fan art – especially children’s drawings – inspired by his books – were treasured by Raymond and pinned to his studio wall.

His wife, Jean Taprell Clark, died in 1973. His companion of 40 years, Liz Benjamin, died in 2015. Survivors include two stepchildren, Clare and Tom, and three grandchildren.

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