David McKee: Mr Benn and Elmer author dies aged 87

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
McKee also illustrated some of the later Paddington Bear books

David McKee, the children's author and illustrator known for the Mr Benn series, has died at the age of 87.

The Devon-born writer, who also created Elmer the Patchwork Elephant and Not Now, Bernard, sold more than 10 million books around the world.

In a statement, his publisher Andersen Press announced the "beloved" author's death "with great sadness".

"All at Andersen Press hope his spirit lives on for many more generations through his joyful, heartfelt stories."

Image source, Shutterstock
Image caption,
Mr Benn was put on a British postage stamp in 2014

McKee's character Mr Benn famously wore a black suit and bowler hat and went on a series of adventures.

In each story, Mr Benn visited a fancy dress store and tried on a different outfit, before leaving the shop through a magic door and going on a journey related to his costume.

The concept was later adapted as an animated television series, originally transmitted by the BBC in the early 1970s.

Image source, Andersen Press

Elmer the Patchwork Elephant was also made into a TV series, as well as a stage play.

McKee also illustrated books written by other authors, such as some of the later Paddington Bear books and Forrest Wilson's Super Gran.

Tributes have been paid by fans and fellow writers, including Philip Ardagh, who said it was "very sad news".

'An astonishing legacy'

Author and illustrator James Mayhew said McKee was "such a gentle, modest, generous man, who leaves an astonishing legacy, covering themes of acceptance & pacifism, as relevant today as ever".

Fred Blunt wrote on Twitter: "He has been an inspiration to me for as long as I can remember."

The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education tweeted that "his contributions to children's literature are such a wonderful legacy to leave behind".

Children's charity Kidscape commented: "His books highlighted diversity & inclusivity & he will be missed."

Children's book reviewer Imogen Russell Williams said McKee's "work, full of bold flat colour and subversive wit, is simply unforgettable", and had "enriched small readers for decades".

Australian TV personality and children's book blogger Brydon Coverdale said he was "a wonderfully creative man".

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