Who was David McKee? Elmer and Mr Benn author dies at 87

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david mckeea famous British writer and illustrator, known for books like Elmer the Patchwork Elephant and Mr Benndied at the age of 87.

Andersen Press, his publisher, confirmed his death in a statement, saying McKee died in the presence of his family, after a short illness.

The statement read: “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of David McKee, beloved children’s author and illustrator, and creator of iconic children’s books Elmer, Not Now, Bernard and Mr. Benn. ‘David died surrounded by his family, following a short illness in the south of France, where he spent a lot of time in recent years, he was 87 years old.

His book Elmer, which remains one of children’s best-loved book series, was first published in 1968 by Dobson Books.

David McKee is known for writing children’s books

It was then reissued after nearly two decades by Andersen Press in 1989. It has sold over 10 million copies to date. McKee not only wrote but also illustrated the colorful character in 29 original books.

Andersen Press remembered the late author by tweeting: “David McKee, beloved creator of the iconic children’s books Elmer, Not Now, Bernard and Mr. Benn has sadly passed away after a short illness. We all hope his spirit will live on for many generations through his joyful and heartfelt stories.

Klaus Flugge, McKee’s longtime editor, was appalled by the sudden death of his “best friend”.

Flugge said, “He was a singular voice and a shining light in children’s books that highlighted inclusivity, diversity, and parts of our world that aren’t always present in children’s publishing”.

He also mentioned that his classic books like Elmer, Two Monsters, and Not Now, Bernard, among many others, have become part of the canon of children’s literature.

He added: “We hope that (his books) will be enjoyed by children for many generations to come.”

About David McKee

David McKee was born in 1935 in Devon, England. He studied at Plymouth College of Art. During the first years of his career, he sold humorous illustrations to magazines and newspapers.

His writing works

In 1964 he published the first book, Two Can Toucan, the story he had told in college about a South American bird, the toucan that could carry two cans of paint on its huge beak. Two Can Toucan was published by Abelard-Schuman.

McKee produced several Elmer books like hardback books, bath books, coloring books, flip books, hole-in-the-page Elmer book, and pop-up book.

McKee also worked as an artist

Besides writing books like Not Now and Bernard, McKee worked as an artist on animation programs. He received an honorary doctorate from the Open University of Plymouth in 2011.

In 1987 he also won the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis prize awarded by the Federal Ministry for Families, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth for appreciating outstanding work in the field of children’s and young adult literature.

Recently, McKee was spending time between his home in London and the south of France where he lived with his second wife Bakhta. Bakhta is a Franco-Algerian art dealer with an interest in collecting African tribal art and drawings.

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