Author and illustrator Raymond Briggs, best known for 1978 classic The Snowman, has died aged 88.
According to reports, his family said in a statement through his publisher Penguin Random House that Briggs died on Tuesday morning.
The Snowman has sold more than 5.5 million copies around the world, and Briggs also created beloved children’s books Father Christmas, Fungus The Bogeyman and When The Wind Blows.
An animated version of The Snowman created for Channel 4 in 1982 has become a festive staple and has been shown every Christmas since.
Briggs’ 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’.”