David McKee, children's author and illustrator most known for the Mr. Benn series has died at the age of 87.

The beloved author died surrounded by his family "following a short illness" in the South of France where he spent much of his time. 

The Devon-born writer sold more than 10 million copies of his books around the world and won a number of awards.

In a statement released from Mckee's published, Andersen Press they said: 

“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of David McKee, beloved author and illustrator for children, and creator of iconic children’s books Elmer, Not Now, Bernard and Mr Benn.

“David died surrounded by his family, following a short illness in the South of France, where he has spent a lot of time in recent years. He was 87.

“All at Andersen Press hope his spirit lives on for many more generations through his joyful, heartfelt stories.”

McKee was born in Devon and studied at Plymouth Art College where he grew he's passion for art. 

In his early career he sold comic drawings to magazines and newspapers including The Times Educational Supplement. 

His debut book, Two Can Toucan was published back in 1965 by Klaus Flugge who later created Andersen Press. 

McKee's hit book Elmer followed the story of a patchwork Elephant and became an international sensation loved by children across the world. 

In total McKee wrote and illustrated 29 original Elmer books, which have collectively been translated into more than 60 languages.

Speaking to BookTrust in 2020, he said: "Picture books are a child’s first glimpse into the art world and, in some way, especially with some of my books, the illustrations are actually more important than the story."