The Snowman author Raymond Briggs leaves nearly all his £6million estate to charity following his death at age 88
- Author died in August having spent final weeks at Royal Sussex County Hospital
- With exception of some gifts, he left bulk of £6,019,502 fortune to good causes
- He also decreed that his gravestone read: ‘Raymond is not a normal person’
The Snowman creator Raymond Briggs has left nearly all of his £6m estate to charity following his death last year.
The illustrator passed away in August aged 88, having spent his final weeks under the care of staff at the Royal Sussex County Hospital.
Mr Briggs enjoyed a long and successful career and is best known as the ‘grumpy’ genius behind the hit 1978 children’s classic, which remains a staple of the festive season to this day.
The wordless picture book has sold more than 5.5million copies around the world since its release and is still reproduced as a televised production every Christmas.
The Snowman creator Raymond Briggs has left nearly all of his £6m estate to charity following his death last year
The illustrator passed away in August aged 88 , having spent his final weeks under the care of staff at the Royal Sussex County Hospital
The wordless picture book, The Snowman, has since sold more than 5.5million copies around the world and is reproduced as a televised production every Christmas
Now it has emerged Mr Briggs left the bulk of his £6,019,502 fortune – with the exception of some gifts – for his trustees to distribute between different charities.
His will reads: ‘I give free of tax all my personal chattels to my Trustees and I wish but without imposing any binding trust or obligation that they distribute them within two years of my death in accordance with any wishes expressed by me or included in any note to be found with this will or among my papers.
‘Any chattels not so distributed shall form the residue of my estate.’
Mr Briggs also gave £1,000 free of tax to Hilda Wheeler, £500 to Barry Newman and £5,000 to Susan Thompson, all of Sussex.
His house, known as Green Cross house, was given to Thomas and Clare Benjamin – the children of his late partner – in equal shares, with any costs paid for from his estate.
It is not know exactly which charities will benefit from his generosity but in December the late artist was thanked by Blood Cancer UK for the ‘generous gift’ in his will in memory of his wife Jean, who died of leukaemia in 1973.
They said: ‘Raymond was right when he said ‘we all die’, but sometimes, the good we do lives on after we’re gone.
‘Raymond hasn’t just left us with his wonderful stories. He also left us at Blood Cancer UK a generous gift in his will, in memory of his…wife, Jean.
‘So this Christmas, as we’re watching The Snowman, we won’t just be feeling sad that Raymond has gone… we’ll be feeling grateful for what he’s left behind.’
Mr Briggs died on August 10, 2022, aged 88.
The Fungus the Bogeyman author also decreed that his gravestone read: ‘Raymond is not a normal person’ – a favourite saying of his uttered by the three year old granddaughter of his partner of 40 years in 1997.
The quote is to be credited to ‘Connie Benjamin, aged 3 years 6 months, in 1997’.
He asked for this to be on the same size stone and shape as his late partner Liz’s.
Speaking to Sue Lawley on Desert Island Discs in 2005, he confirmed that he would like this inscribed.
He said: ‘It all seems very normal to the point of being boring to me but she was only three and a half when she said this.
‘It’s rather strange all sitting round having lunch, there was a slight pause and she just looked across the table and said: ‘Raymond is not a normal person.’
‘Brilliant. Terrific. Best compliment I have ever had in my life! Who wants to be normal?’
Over the past five decades, the best-selling author shifted millions of copies of his famous works including When The Wind Blows, Fungus The Bogeyman, Father Christmas and Ethel & Ernest
Relatives confirmed the illustrator (pictured above) spent his finals weeks at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, as they praised the ‘kind and thoughtful care’ of the staff there
Mr Briggs is pictured outside Downing Street (second from left) in 1985 as a group of authors and publishers including Caroline Blackwood urged action from then-PM Margaret Thatcher on Nuclear Disarmament
Mr Briggs illustrated his first collection of nursery rhymes, The Mother Goose Trilogy in 1996 which earned him the Kate Greenaway medal. Later classics include Father Christmas (1973), Fungus the Bogeyman (1977) and The Snowman (1978)
Despite his fortune, he lived simply, driving an old car and buying his clothes from a charity shop.
His books were known for often having sad endings and gallows humour.
Speaking to Sue Lawley, he continued: ‘Most endings are sad anyway. It ends in death.
‘The Snowman melts, the bear goes back to the Arctic and everyone dies at the end of When the Wind Blows. ‘That’s what we’ve all got to face.’
Born in Wimbledon Park, London, Briggs was the only child of a lady’s maid and a milkman.
At 15, he enrolled at Wimbledon School of Art hoping to become a cartoonist before studying oil painting and figure drawing.
He made his name with the Mother Goose Treasury in 1966 – for which he did 897 illustrations and won the Kate Greenaway Medal.
He married Jean Taprell Clark in 1963, another artist who had schizophrenia and died of leukaemia in 1973.
He later wrote and illustrated Father Christmas (1973), Father Christmas Goes on Holiday (1975), Fungus the Bogeyman (1977) and The Snowman (1978).
From his home near Lewes, East Sussex, he worked at a large desk overlooking the Sussex Weald doing everything for his books, including the lettering, by hand.
Liz Benjamin was his partner for over 40 years until her death in 2015 and he became an unofficial stepfather to her children Tom and Clare and grandfather to Connie, Tilly and Miles.
He won prizes across his career including the Children’s Book of the Year, the BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award, a CBE and was the first person to be inducted into the British Comic Awards’ hall of fame.
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