LONDON — British children’s author Dick King-Smith, whose novel “The Sheep-Pig’’ inspired the hit movie “Babe,’’ has died near London.
He was 88.
His publisher, Random House Children’s Books, said in a statement that the writer died in his sleep early Tuesday morning at his home near Bath, about 100 miles west of London, after suffering from poor health in recent years.
Mr. King-Smith was honored by Queen Elizabeth II when he was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire last year for his services to children’s literature.
The writer worked for 20 years as a farmer before he trained as a primary school teacher.
In his 50s, he began to write his first story, “The Fox Busters,’’ about chickens taking their revenge on foxes.
The book was published in 1978.
He has published more than 100 books — mostly about animals and often about pigs, his favorite.
His books have sold more than 15 million copies worldwide.
The 1995 Oscar-winning movie “Babe,’’ based on his story about a pig that behaves like a sheepdog, made his books popular around the globe.
He once said of his work: “Much as I love ‘The Wind In The Willows’ and the works of Beatrix Potter, I never dress my animals in clothes. . . . They behave as animals should behave, with the exception that they open their mouths and speak the Queen’s English.’’
“Dick was one of the kindest and funniest authors and a delight to publish,’’ said Annie Eaton, a publisher at Random House.
Eaton added that despite enjoying Hollywood success with the film of his novel “The Sheep-Pig,’’ Mr. King-Smith “stayed firmly grounded and was quite unspoiled.’’
His family said Mr. King-Smith leaves his wife Zona, and three children, 14 grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and a great-great grandchild.