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Dick King-Smith, 1922-2011. PA

Dick King-Smith, creator of ‘Babe’, dies at 88

The children’s author, best known for writing the books that spawned the Babe films, passes away at home.

CHILDREN’S AUTHOR Dick King-Smith, whose books inspired the massively popular ‘Babe’ films, has died at the age of 88.

King-Smith – an ‘accidental’ author, having only turned his hand to writing books about talking animals due to his own lifelong obsession with farming – died at home in his sleep, having penned over a hundred books.

It was for his 1983 tome ‘The Sheep-Pig’ that he was best known, however; it had ultimately inspired the 1995 movie ‘Babe’, based on a talking pig which acted as a sheepdog, and leading to seven Academy Award nominations, as well as a popular sequel.

“I like them, I’ve always kept a lot of pets, and because it’s fun putting words in their mouths,” King-Smith had explained of his habit for writing books set in the farmyard, the Guardian quotes.

He had fought in Italy as part of the Grenadier Guards in World War II, and had developed cerebral embolism when a piece of shrapnel in one lung went unnoticed for three years.

At one point, the Telegraph reports, he was so weak and close to death after the disease took hold that he could only wave one hand.

He took to farming life after his recovery, however, when his father bought him a farm and made him its manager. He later began teaching and turned to writing full-time in 1982, becoming one of the more prolific children’s writers of his era, after his first book The Fox Busters became an instant success.

He had been awarded an OBE in last year’s New Year’s honours.

He is survived by his second wife, Zona, two children, 14 grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. His first wife, who he had met at 13 and married at 21, predeceased him in 2000.