American writer and illustrator Maurice Sendak, author of the classic children's book Where the Wild Things Are, has died at the age of 83.
Sendak died at Danbury Hospital in Connecticut from complications from a recent stroke, a hospital spokesperson said overnight. He lived in nearby Ridgefield, Connecticut.
"We are terribly saddened at the passing of Maurice Sendak. He was a glorious author and illustrator, an amazingly gifted designer, a blisteringly funny raconteur, a fierce and opinionated wit, and a loyal friend to those who knew him. His talent is legendary; his mind and breadth of knowledge equally so," Susan Katz, the president and publisher of HarperCollins Children's Books, which published his books, said in a statement.
"Every once in a while, someone comes along who changes our world for the better. Maurice Sendak was such a man," she added.
Playwright Tony Kushner once described Sendak "as one of the most important, if not the most important, writers and artists to ever work in children's literature".
"Maurice Sendak captured childhood in brilliant stories and drawings which will live forever," Richard Robinson, the chairman, president and CEO of Scholastic Inc publishers, said in a statement.
Sendak, who was born in Brooklyn in 1928 and was dubbed by one critic as the Picasso of children's books, illustrated more than 50 books during his long career and won a number of prizes for his drawings. The Queen of Sweden presented him with the Hans Christian Andersen Award for children's book illustration in 1970.
Sendak, who was a sickly child, spent much of his time indoors. He enjoyed books and drew throughout high school. He became a professional illustrator after working briefly as a window dresser at the F.A.O. Schwarz toy store in New York and taking classes at the New York Art Students League.
He illustrated his first book, The Wonderful Farm in 1951 and won international acclaim in 1963 with Where the Wild Things Are, made into a film in 2009, about a boy who imagines a world of toothy monsters. The following year the American Library Association awarded him the prestigious Caldecott Medal for his illustration in the book.
Dozens of other children's books followed including In the Night Kitchen in 1970, which is dedicated to his parents, and Outside Over There in 1981.
In 1996 then-President Bill Clinton awarded Sendak the National Medal of Arts.
Sendak also worked as a costume and stage designer for operas by Ravel, Mozart and others.
Bumble-Ardy, the first book in three decades in which he did both illustrations and text, was released in September by HarperCollins Publishers.
Sendak worked on the book while caring for his partner, Eugene Glynn, who died of cancer in 2007.
"I have nothing now but praise for my life. I'm not unhappy. I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can't stop them. They leave me and I love them more," Sendak said in an interview last year on Fresh Air with Terry Gross on NPR radio.
"There are so many beautiful things in the world which I will have to leave when I die, but I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready."
What was your favourite Sendak book and why? Leave your comments below.