Growing up, Brian Jacques' Redwall series (featuring armed mice and other animals) was a staple on my bookshelf. It was also the first time I was introduced to the concept of killing off main characters. (Sure, I admit it; I welled-up when certain voles and badgers of Redwall lore met their demise at the end of a sword. It's heavy stuff!)
Anyhow, the prolific author passed away at the age of 71 this weekend due to a heart attack. Jacques wrote 21 Redwall novels as well as running a radio show, Jakestown, on BBC Radio for 20 years. His novels were turned into a both a television series and an opera. From the BBC:
Mr Jacques grew up near to the docks in Liverpool and when he left school at 15, travelled the world as a merchant seaman.
In the sixties, with his two brothers, he formed a folk group called The Liverpool Fishermen.
Even as a child he showed literary talent.
He was caned by a teacher who could not believe that a 10-year-old could write so well when he penned a short story about a bird who cleaned a crocodile's teeth.