Brian Jacques, RIP
Brian Jacques, the beloved British author of the Redwall series, died of a heart attack over the weekend at age 71.source
Hailed as one of “the best children’s authors in the world,” Jacques’ 21 Redwall books were translated into 29 languages and sold 20 million copies worldwide.
The New York Times has more details of his life:
He was a longshoreman and a long-haul trucker; a merchant mariner and a railway fireman; a boxer, a bus driver and a British bobby. But it wasn’t until he became a milkman that Brian Jacques found his métier.
Nearing midlife, Mr. Jacques (pronounced “Jakes”) took a job driving a milk truck in Liverpool, where he was born and lived to the end of his life. On his route was the Royal School for the Blind.
Invited in for a nice cup of tea one day, he volunteered to read to the students. Over time, he grew dissatisfied with the books available — too much adolescent angst, he later said — and vowed to write his own.
He wrote what he called “a proper story,” brimming with battle and gallantry. Titled “Redwall” and published in 1986, it became the first installment in what is now a best-selling 21-volume children’s fantasy series....
Set at the pastoral Redwall Abbey in the misty English past, the books are written for children 8 and up. They center on the triumph of good over evil — specifically the hard-won victories of the abbey’s resident mice, badgers and squirrels over the marauding rats, weasels and stoats that perennially threaten their peaceable kingdom.
There are quests and riddles; cunning treachery and chivalric derring-do; and, in a feature that became a hallmark of the entire series, groaning boards spread with sumptuous feasts, lovingly described.
I read many of these books to my kids. They were simply wonderful, and we never tired of the tales of good in the form of mice, voles, moles ("molespeak" was a language) conquering evil in the form of rats, weasels, stoats, ferrets, and cats (the evil Zarmina was among the most cruel of his many arch villains).
Brian Jacques will be missed. But his books will live on. They will be read aloud for decades to come.