Obituary: Dick King-Smith OBE (27th of March 1922- 4th of January 2011)
Perhaps the greatest children's author of his generation, Dick King-Smith OBE, died in his sleep on the 4th of January. King-Smith is probably best remembered for being the author of 'The Sheep-Pig' which was later adapted to film under it's American title 'Babe' and the touching story of 'The Water Horse' which was also adapted into a successful film. The Water Horse was the story of how a young boy found an egg which hatched to grow into the Loch Ness Monster, the story works in several parts of Nessie-lore including the 'real' reason why the 'surgeon’s photo' was faked. King-Smith's books were frequently about animals, farm animals in particular, and many had fortean themes like 'Dragon Boy' and 'Paddy's Pot of Gold'; stories about Dragons and Leprechauns respectively.
Dick King-Smith Served as a soldier in World War II before becoming a farmer for 20 years, an experience he would draw extensively from in his stories. He then became a teacher and later an author in 1978 with the publication of his first novel 'The Fox Busters', a story about a group of chickens that take matters into their own hands to eradicate a fox problem in a style reminiscent of 'Dam Busters'. From 1978 to 2007 he wrote a staggering 134 children's books, most of which gained consistently good reviews.
On a personal level Dick King-Smith's books meant a great deal to me. As a child I would love hearing and later reading his books myself at bedtime especially 'Daggie Dogfoot' (a charming story about a small pig born as the runt of the litter who became the first pig to fly) and 'Saddle Bottom' (the tale of a pig who became a military mascot after nearly becoming sausages), and they instilled in me a love and respect for animals from a very young age. My favourite book however was the Hodgeheg, which formed the inspiration for the Claude Gill Bookshop's young readers club.
Rest in peace Dick King-Smith, after bringing joy to so many people all over the world you've earned it.