New Zealand children’s author Margaret Mahy died earlier this week, following a brief illness. Mahy is a renowned author who has published 100 picture books, 40 novels and 20 short story collections over the course of her writing career, and has had her works translated into 15 different languages.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key was among those who expressed his sorrow at the news, declaring that Mahy was one of the country’s best loved authors.
"She is widely acknowledged as one of this country's finest authors, and one of the world's greatest writers of children's and young adults' stories," he said
. "Ms Mahy's stories resonated with children around the globe - her works were translated into a number of languages, and the accolades she received internationally illustrate her enormous contribution to children's literature."
Children’s author Jack Lasenby was also full of praise for Mahy, announcing that she had the "most powerful imagination of our time" in an interview with Radio New Zealand.
"It's that wonderful combination of reality and fantasy, a wild imagination - but a truthful one in a sense, grounded in the daily, the exact," he said.
Lasenby also spoke about Mahy’s innate ability to write for various different age groups.
"She just constantly dazzled as with her ability to turn from one group to another. I love the period of her great teenage and intermediate age novels, which are really a delightful for adults as well," he said.
"The last few weeks, with her illness, I've been looking over some of books again and they stand up again, so fresh and delightful."
He also shared his latest conversation with Mahy, where she sadly informed him that she was unable to write due to her illness.
Mahy, whose impressive career led her to receive an Order of New Zealand, the highest honour in the New Zealand’s honour system, published her first book in 1969. After studying at Auckland University College from 1952 to 1954, Mahy completed her bachelor of arts at Christchurch’s Canterbury University College in 1955.
After training as a librarian at the New Zealand Library School, Mahy began to write every night after work, before becoming a full-time author in 1980.
Her successful children’s novels and picture books have garnered her a special international recognition, and awarded her with various awards and honours including the Carnegie Medal and the Hans Christian Andersen Award.