A statement from his family said: “We know that Raymond’s books have been loved and touched by millions of people around the world, who will be saddened to hear this news. The fan designs – especially the fan designs of children – inspired by his books were treasured by Raymond and pinned 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 walks in the South Downs and on family holidays in Scotland and Wales. He also shared his sense of fun and madness with his family and with his family of artist friends – at get-togethers, costume parties and summer picnics in the garden.

(PENNSYLVANIA)

“He played practical jokes and liked to be joked about. All of us close to him knew his irreverent humor – it could be biting in his work when it came to those in power. He loved the Guardian op-ed describing himself as an “iconoclastic national treasure”.

Francesca Dow, Managing Director of Children’s Books at Penguin Random House, who served as Raymond Briggs’ publisher, said: “I am very proud that Puffin has been Raymond’s children’s book house for so many years.

“Raymond’s books are illustrated masterpieces that address some of the fundamental questions of what it is to be human, addressing adults and children alike with remarkable economy of words and illustrations.

“Raymond is probably best known for The Snowman. Perhaps he needed more freedom than the standard 32-page picture book format allowed and created a radical and beautiful innovation: a wordless picture book for children, a stills storyboard that became an instant classic in its own right, as well as the most I loved animations.

She added: “Raymond was a brilliantly observant and funny storyteller, honest about life rather than how adults might wish to tell it to children. A kindness, integrity and generosity run through all of his books.

“And so in life: Raymond was a generous, unjealous spirit with whom it was a pleasure to work, as well as to visit at his Sussex cottage and discover his teasing genius in his home. He was funny! He made us laugh a lot. I will miss him. He will be missed by all of us who had the privilege of working with him.

Ms Dow said Briggs had been “unique” and had “inspired generations of picture book, graphic novel and animation creators”.

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