Raymond Briggs, author of 'The Snowman', dies aged 88

·Contributor
·4 min read
File photo dated 29/05/08 of author Raymond Briggs posing for media in a designer deckchair in Hyde Park, London. Author and illustrator Raymond Briggs, who is best known for the 1978 classic The Snowman, has died aged 88, his publisher Penguin Random House said. Issue date: Wednesday August 10, 2022.
The Snowman author Raymond Briggs has died aged 88. (PA)

Raymond Briggs, who is best known for the 1978 classic The Snowman, has died aged 88.

The family of the author and illustrator - who also created Fungus The Bogeyman - said in a statement through his publisher Penguin Random House that Briggs died on Tuesday, 9 August.

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.

Raymond Briggs was the author of the perennial festive favourite The Snowman. (Getty/TVC)
Raymond Briggs was the author of the perennial festive favourite The Snowman. (Getty/TVC)

“Drawings from fans – especially children’s drawings – inspired by his books were treasured by Raymond and pinned up on the wall of his studio.

Read more: Things you might not know about The Snowman

“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 Snowman (TVC London Productions)
The Snowman (TVC London Productions)

“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."

The Snowman has sold more than 5.5 million copies around the world, and Briggs also created beloved children’s books Father Christmas and Fungus The Bogeyman, and wrote a celebrated graphic novel about the lives of his own parents, Ethel and Ernest.

Aled Jones, who sang We're Walking In The Air, for the soundtrack of the 1982 TV animation of The Snowman said: "Very sad to hear the news of the death of Raymond Briggs. I’ll be paying tribute ClassicFM at 10 this morning. Thoughts and love to his family."

Aled Jones attends The Global Awards 2019
Welsh singer and TV presenter Aled Jones rose to fame after singing Walking In The Air for The Snowman. (Getty Images)

Born in Wimbledon in 1934, Briggs studied at the Wimbledon School of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art before briefly pursuing painting.

After becoming a professional illustrator, he worked and taught illustration at the Brighton College of Art.

Read more: What happened to David Bowie's Snowman scarf

In 1966 he won the Kate Greenaway medal for his illustration work on a book of nursery rhymes, The Mother Goose Treasury.

His best-known works were published between 1973 and 1984 and also included Father Christmas Goes On Holiday and The Tin-Pot Foreign General And The Old Iron Woman.

Raymond Briggs in Hyde Park in 2008.
The animation of Raymond Briggs book The Snowman is shown on television every Christmas. (PA)

His won numerous prizes across his career, including the Kurt Maschler Award, The Children’s Book of the Year, the Dutch Silver Pen Award.

In February 2017, Raymond was honoured with the BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award and the trust responded to news of his death by tweeting: “He will live on in his stunning, iconic books.”

He was made a CBE for services to literature in the same year.

Francesca Dow, managing director of Penguin Random House Children’s, said: “Raymond’s books are picture masterpieces that address some of the fundamental questions of what it is to be human, speaking to both adults and children with a remarkable economy of words and illustrations.

Raymond Briggs [2nd L] joins writers who delivered a recommended reading list to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at No.10 Downing Street to support book action for Nuclear Disarmament in 1985. (PA)
Raymond Briggs [2nd L] joins writers who delivered a recommended reading list to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at No.10 Downing Street to support book action for Nuclear Disarmament in 1985. (PA)

“Raymond is probably best known for The Snowman. He needed greater freedom perhaps than the standard 32-page picture book format allowed and created a radical and beautiful innovation: a wordless picture book for children, a storyboard of stills that became an instant classic in its own right, as well as the much-loved animation.”

Dow said Briggs had been “unique” and had “inspired generations of creators of picture books, graphic novels, and animations”.

She added: “He leaves an extraordinary legacy, and a big hole.”

Briggs’ literary agent, Hilary Delamere, added: “Raymond liked to act the professional curmudgeon, but we will remember him for his stories of love and of loss.

“I know from the many letters he received how his books and animations touched people’s hearts.”

Raymond Briggs' much loved character Fungus the Bogeyman. (PA)
Raymond Briggs' much loved character Fungus the Bogeyman. (PA)

TV gardener Monty Don tweeted: “Thank you Raymond Briggs for a life’s work magnificently celebrating the rich seam of very English pessimism. You enriched so many of our lives.”

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner added: “Raymond Briggs brought so much magic and joy to so many.

“Rest in peace. And thank you for the memories.”

Writer Tony Parsons tweeted: "Raymond Briggs watched over a billion childhoods. Thank you so much and rest in peace and in our hearts forever."

Read more: David Bowie was "all wrong" for The Snowman, says Raymond Briggs

Briggs is survived by his step-daughter Clare and her husband Fynn; his step-son Tom and his wife Sarah, and his three step-grandchildren.

Watch: The best alternative Christmas movies