NORWALK, Conn. — Author and illustrator Ian Woodward Falconer, best known for his “Olivia” series of children’s books, has died.
Falconer’s attorney and agent, Conrad M. Rippy, said Falconer died Tuesday of natural causes while with his family in Norwalk, Connecticut. He was 63 years old.
Falconer’s “Olivia” books featured an intelligent little pig with a great imagination named Olivia, a character he developed for his young niece in 1996. Family and friends encouraged him to continue working on the character.
He turned down publishers who wanted the text to be written by an outside author. “I’m afraid my vanity wouldn’t allow me to relegate myself to ‘illustrated by,’” she said. “I also thought that my instincts about the story were correct, if not polished, and that it had happened organically with the visuals.”
The first book in the series, called “Olivia,” was published in 2000. It stayed on The New York Times Best Seller List for more than a year, received the Caldecott Honor, and has sold more than 10 million copies.
He wrote and illustrated seven sequels, the latest of which was “Olivia the Spy” in 2017.
In 2022, he published a new children’s book called “Two Dogs”. She told National Public Radio last year that the characters, a pair of dachshunds named Perry and Augie, were inspired by her nephews.
Falconer was also a set and costume designer for ballet and opera companies around the world, including numerous New York City Ballet productions. He also created 30 magazine covers for The New Yorker.
Falconer was born on August 25, 1969 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 on his stage opera designs.
Falconer is survived by his mother Sandy and his sisters Tonia and Tory, as well as his nieces and nephews Olivia, Ian, August, Perry and Will.