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Author who created Babe the sheep-pig dies

The author Dick King-Smith, beloved for bringing pigs, dogs and hares to bustling life in more than 100 books, has died at the age of 88.

The writer, whose 1983 novel The Sheep-Pig about a pig who wants to be a sheepdog inspired the film Babe, passed away in his sleep on Tuesday at his home near Bath, his agent said.

Born Ronald King-Smith in 1922, he fought in the Grenadier Guards in Italy during the Second World War before spending 20 years as a farmer. His books, dubbed "farmyard fantasies", have been translated into 12 languages and sold over 15 million copies worldwide. They mainly focused on pigs, though in an interview Mr King-Smith said: "Fond as I am of pigs and admiring their beauty and great intelligence, I have to say the best pet is a dog, especially if it's beautiful, affectionate, intelligent and biddable."

He spent mornings writing longhand, typing it up in the afternoon. He is survived by his second wife Zona, three children, 14 grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.