'Redwall' Author Brian Jacques Dies At 71

British author Brian Jacques, who wrote the best-selling Redwall children's series has died. A message on his official website said the creator of the 21-story series, which sold an estimated 20 million copies, passed away on Feb. 5. Jacques was 71.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Fans of children's literature might recognize this voice.

Mr. BRIAN JACQUES (Author, "Redwall"): (Reading) Down long ages, the beautiful old abbey had stood for happiness, peace and refuge to all.

MONTAGNE: That's author Brian Jacques, and the abbey he's speaking of is Redwall Abbey, for which his children's series is named.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Mr. Jacques died on Saturday, and this morning we remember him and his creations. They include some 21 books starring mice, the heroes of his stories, along with badgers and squirrels. Those creatures fight their beloved abbey from marauding hordes of rats and weasels.

The books pull from Jacques' own experiences in Liverpool, England where he was born and raised.

Ms. ANITA SILVEY (Editor/Literary Critic): He always said he got his degree in the University of Life.

INSKEEP: That's the children's book expert Anita Silvey.

Ms. SILVEY: He had so many experiences. He was a truck driver and he was a longshoreman. And he just did so many occupations that when he finally came to writing, he had an enormous reservoir to draw upon.

MONTAGNE: Jacques was well into his 40s when his first book, "Redwall," was published. It was over 300 pages and featured animals. Silvey says it was not an immediate bestseller.

Ms. SILVEY: In the 1980s, conventional wisdom was that children did not want to read anything over 200 pages, and they wanted to read about children like themselves.

MONTAGNE: But the books caught on and Jacques developed a devoted following. His books sold millions of copies around the world by the time of his death at the age of 71. And his publishing life will go on. One more book is scheduled for publication in May.

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