Adored children’s author of Babar series dies aged 98

Lauren de Brunhoff has died aged 98 (Picture: AP)

Babar heir and author Laurent de Brunhoff has died at the age of 98.

The French native was behind the global phenomenon that is Babar the elephant, having taken over from his father Jean de Brunhoff, who died when he was just 12 years old.

Jean had published four and Babar books by his death, and when de Brunhoff grew older he revived the franchise with best-selling children’s stories including Babar at the Circus and Babar’s Guide to Paris.

He moved to the United States from France in the 1980s, and died on Friday at his home in Key West, Florida.

The news was confirmed by his widow, author Phyllis Rose, who said he had died from complications of a stroke, according to The New York Times.

Rose had written much of the text of the final Babar books.

The beloved children’s books became a popular TV show and film series (Picture: Channel 5)

Jean published the first Babar book in 1931, and completed four more before his death from tubercolosis at just 37 years of age.

But it was De Brunhoff’s mother who came up with the first idea of Babar — or what she referred to as Bebe (baby) elephant.

He told National Geographic in 2014 that his mother told them a story of a baby elephant who escaped to the city, and they in turn told their father, who ‘was very amused and started to draw.

De Brunhoff revived the Babar series after his father’s death (Picture: AP)

‘And that was how the story of Babar was born.’

‘It was my father who changed the name to Babar. But the first pages of the first book, with the elephant killed by a hunter and the escape to the city, was her story.

After World War II, De Brunhoff, who worked as a painter, decided to carry on the series for his father; it gained worldwide recognition, sparking children’s TV shows and films.

It came to an end in 2017 with Babar’s Guide To Paris.

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