Mr Benn and Elmer children’s author David McKee has tragically died at 87 after suffering a short illness.
David sadly passed away at his home in the South of France – with the news being confirmed by his publisher.
Anderson Press said: “It is with great sadness that we announce the death of David McKee, beloved author and illustrator for children, and creator of iconic children’s books Elmer, Not Now, Bernard and Mr Benn.
“All at Andersen Press hope his spirit lives on for many more generations through his joyful, heartfelt stories.”
The tragic author wrote 29 Elmer books which have sold more than 10 million copies worldwide.
David previously spoke about how his children’s books are “instrumental in helping them shape their view of the world”.
He told BookTrust in 2020: “Picture books are a child’s first glimpse into the art world and in some way, especially with some of my books, the illustrations are actually more important than the story.”
Diana Gerald, CEO of BookTrust, said of the tragic news: “Everyone at BookTrust is devastated to hear about the death of David McKee, the author and illustrator of much-loved stories like Elmer, Not Now Bernard, Mr Benn and many more.
“David’s incredible and unique contribution to children’s literature crosses cultures, languages and generations.
“Throughout his life, he has championed the importance of children’s books – how they shape attitudes and open doors to get children reading.
“We are so grateful for his long-standing support of our work, and we were honoured to recognise him with our Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020.
“His special books and iconic characters have brought so many smiles to children’s faces across the generations, inspiring them to pick up their next book and we know they’ll continue to do so. Thank you for everything, David.”
He was born in Devon and later went on to study at Plymouth Art College, before becoming a well-known writer and illustrator.
After the sad news was announced, his longtime friend Klaus Flugge said: “I am devastated by the sudden death of my best friend David McKee.
“He was as close to Andersen Press as I am. He was there from the very beginning and essential to the origin of the company.
“He became great friends with everyone he encountered; staff, authors and illustrators alike.
“His was a singular voice and a shining light in children’s books that highlighted inclusivity, diversity and parts of our world that are not always present in publishing for children.
“His classic books include Elmer, Two Monsters and Not Now, Bernard, amongst many, many others, have become part of the canon of children’s literature, and we hope will be enjoyed by children for many more generations to come.
“Not only was I fortunate to be his publisher, he was also a wonderful friend, and he will be missed by many more people than he could ever imagine.”
Over on Twitter, fans shared their heartbreak at the news of his death.
One wrote: “Some sad literary news today. RIP David McKee, thanks for the illustrations & inspirations!”
Another penned: “So sad. Elmer is a great favourite in this house. RIP David McKee.”
A third remembered: “Sad to see that David McKee has gone – but how marvellous that with just a handful of episodes of one TV show he created an indelible character who’ll rightly live on forever.”