Famed New Zealand children's author Margaret Mahy died yesterday in Christchurch following a brief illness, aged 76.
Mahy, who held the country's highest royal honour - membership of the Order of New Zealand - wrote 100 picture books, 40 novels and 20 collections of short stories.
Her works were translated into 15 languages.
Book blogger Graham Beattie called Mahy one of the country's greatest writers - "up there" with Katherine Mansfield.
"Farewell, Margaret, I salute you, it has been both an honour and privilege to know you," he wrote in an online tribute.
Mahy was born in Whakatane in 1936 and raised in the town. She wrote her first story, Harry Is Bad, at the age of 7.
Mahy's first book to be published, in 1969, was A Lion in the Meadow, which was discovered by American editor Sarah Chockla Gross, who published five of Mahy's stories as picture books, launching her international career.
"It was one of those romantic things that happen," Mahy said of her own discovery.
In 1980, Mahy became a fulltime writer and went on to win numerous awards and honours for her contribution to NZ and children's literature. She was appointed to the Order of New Zealand in 1993, and was made an honorary doctor of letters by the University of Canterbury.
She also won many of the world's premier children's book awards, including the Carnegie Medal and the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award.
Mahy continued to collect accolades, the most recent being the New Zealand Post Children's Book of the Year award in 2011, for The Moon and Farmer McPhee.
Mahy was known as a generous and humble person - she often visited schools and libraries, sometimes in fancy dress, thrilling children.
Her daughter Penny Mahy was reported today as saying the death was a "double whammy", after her mother's younger brother Frank died unexpectedly on Saturday. Penny Mahy said her mother had "one or two" books in the pipeline when she died, the Stuff website reported.
The Daily Post Whakatane reporter Katee Shanks noted on Facebook last night the Eastern Bay had lost two of its favourite sons/daughters in two days, following Sunday's death of Taneatua identity Rob Shaw.
"How very, very sad. RIP."