British author Brian Jacques, renowned for his bestselling "Redwall" children's fantasy series, has died aged 71.
A message on his official website said the creator of the 21-story series, which sold an estimated 20 million copies, passed away on February 5.
The Liverpool Echo newspaper said Jacques had undergone emergency surgery at a hospital in his native Liverpool, but died late on Saturday. His brother Jim told the newspaper that the family was in "deep shock" and that his death was "sudden."
Jacques was born in June, 1939, and at an early age showed potential as a writer.
According to his official biography, when he was 10 he wrote a short story about a bird who cleaned a crocodile's teeth. His teacher refused to believe that it was not copied, and Jacques was branded a liar and caned.
As a teenager he travelled the world in the merchant navy before returning to England, where he did a variety of jobs including driving a bus, boxing and writing plays.
He came to write "Redwall" for the children at a blind school in Liverpool where he delivered milk. The tale centers around a young mouse Matthias who summons the courage to protect Redwall Abbey when it is threatened by a rat called Cluny.
Jacques made his writing as descriptive as possible with his blind audience in mind, and, when his childhood English teacher Alan Durband took the story to a publisher, it offered the author a five-book deal.
Twenty-one Redwall books followed, starting with Redwall in 1986 and ending with "The Sable Quean" published in 2010. The 22nd novel, "The Rogue Crew," is due to appear later this year.
Jacques leaves behind his wife, Maureen, and his two sons, Marc, a carpenter and bricklayer, and David, a contemporary artist.