Author and illustrator Ian Woodward Falconer, known for his “Olivia” book series for children, has died.
Falconer’s lawyer and agent Conrad M. Rippy said Falconer died Tuesday of natural causes while with family in Norwalk, Connecticut. He was 63.
Falconer’s “Olivia” books featured a clever piglet with a great imagination named Olivia, a character he developed for his young niece in 1996. Family members and friends encouraged him to keep working on the character.
He turned down publishers who wanted the text be written by an outside author. “I am afraid my vanity wouldn’t allow me to relegate myself to ‘illustrated by,’" he said. "I also thought my instincts about the story were, if unpolished, right, and had happened organically with the pictures.”
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The first book in the series, called “Olivia," was published in 2000. It stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for over a year, was awarded the Caldecott Honor and has sold over 10 million copies.
He wrote and illustrated seven sequels, the last of which was “Olivia the Spy” in 2017.
In 2022, he published a new book for children called “Two Dogs.” He told National Public Radio last year the characters, a pair of dachshunds named Perry and Augie, were inspired by his nephews.
Falconer was also a designer of sets and costumes for ballet and opera companies around the world including numerous productions by the New York City Ballet. He also created 30 magazine covers for The New Yorker.
Falconer was born Aug. 25, 1959, in Ridgefield, Connecticut, studied art history at New York University for two years and then enrolled as a painter at the Parsons School of Design. He transferred to the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles and began working with artist David Hockney, helping him in his stage opera designs.
Falconer is survived by his mother Sandy and sisters Tonia and Tory, as well as nieces and nephews Olivia, Ian, August, Perry and Will.