NORTH East children’s author Eva Ibbotson, whose fans include US President Barack Obama, has died at the age of 85.
The award-winning writer, known for her amusing and magical tales, passed away at her home in Newcastle on Wednesday.
Industry experts have paid tribute to the writer whose career spanned 35 years.
Born in Vienna, Austria, Mrs Ibbotson and her family moved to the UK in 1933, the year Hitler seized power in Germany.
She moved to the North East in 1960 with her husband, Alan, when he got a lecturing job at King’s College, later Newcastle University. The couple went on to bring up their daughter and three sons in Newcastle.
While working as a teacher in the North East, Mrs Ibbotson began her writing career in 1965 when she penned television drama Linda Came Today. Ten years later, aged 50, she published her first novel, The Great Ghost Rescue. She went on to write 16 children’s novels and seven romance novels for adults.
Her most acclaimed book, adventure story Journey to the River Sea, was published in 2001 and went on to win the Nestlé Children’s Gold Award and was shortlisted for the Carnegie medal.
The book, which tells the story of an orphan girl on an adventure to find her distant relatives, was purchased by President Obama in April for his two daughters, Malia, 11, and Sasha, nine, in a shopping centre in Iowa.
At the time, the President said: “I think they’re going to like this.”
After hearing of her new fan, Mrs Ibbotson said: “As you can imagine I was delighted and very surprised to hear that President Obama had bought Journey to the River Sea for his two daughters.
“The question is will they enjoy the story once they have read it? I very much hope so.
“It seems a long journey from Newcastle into the White House, but the story, set in the Amazon, was written for any child who likes adventure. The two little girls, living the fairytale life that they do, must surely come into that category.” Speaking after her death, Dom Kingston, senior publicity manager for Mrs Ibbotson’s publisher, Macmillan Children’s Books, said she will be missed.
He said: “In a career stretching over 35 years, Eva’s novels touched the hearts and souls of generations of children and their parents.
“She wrote with immense wit, economy and elegance – and her deceptively funny, engaging books always pack an emotional punch, whether she was writing for eight-year-olds or young teens.
“Eva’s own fierce intelligence, self-deprecating humour and wonderful quick wittedness are reflected in and will live on through her books.”