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Renowned French author and illustrator Tomi Ungerer dies at 87

AFP  |  Strasbourg (France) 

The renowned French cartoonist, Ungerer, a lifelong activist who protested against racial segregation, the war and the election of US Donald Trump, has died at the age of 87 in Ireland, his former told AFP on Saturday.

"He died in the night and his wife called me this (Saturday) morning on the phone," Robert Walter, his former and a friend "for 35 years" said, adding that died at his daughter's home.

"He was an all-round genius, a man who was talented in everything. He loved literature. He used to say 'I write about what I draw and I draw what I write'," he said.

Originally from Alsace in eastern France, lived in the and before settling in

He was obsessed with books from an early age.

"For me, if there was a heaven it would be a library," he told AFP in a 2016 interview, adding that he was "brought up on reading".

Ungerer's oeuvre ranged from globally celebrated children's books like The Three Robbers and The Moon Man to erotic drawings as well as satirical paintings and political posters. He wrote in three languages: English, French and German.

He published over 140 books which have been translated into 30 languages.

Ungerer's social activism and his often irreverent writings led to some of his work being branded "subversive" by critics.

Born into a family of watchmakers in 1931 in the Alsatian city of Strasbourg, lost his father when he was three-years-old.

He witnessed the annexation of Alsace by during World War II and the subsequent imposition of German and Nazi ideology in schools, which he recounted later in autobiographical works.

After failing the second part of the baccalaureate exam -- in a school report, his described him as a "wilfully perverse and subversive individualist" -- Ungerer hitchhiked to the in

After the end of the war, Ungerer travelled across and in 1956, he left for with 60 dollars in his pocket and what he later described as a "trunk full of drawings and manuscripts".

The following year, after meeting the children's at and Row, his first children's book The Mellops Go Flying was published and became an immediate success.

A range of works followed from the complete Mellop series to several prize-winning books and satirical works including Horrible and The Underground Sketchbook.

He then worked for magazine as its editor and also did several political posters including drawings for the election campaign of former German

Ungerer donated more than 11,000 original works of art, sculptures, books and toys to a museum devoted to his work and life, which opened in 2007 in his birthplace

Since then, the Ungerer Museum has been voted as one of the ten best museums in by the Council of

He was awarded the by in 1990 and was elevated to of the in 2018.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, February 09 2019. 21:20 IST