Children's book author Margaret Mahy, one of New Zealand's most acclaimed literary figures, died today.

Ms Mahy, 76, died in Christchurch this afternoon after a brief illness, according to reports from book blogger Graham Beattie and the Whitcoulls website.

"...One of New Zealand's greatest-ever writers - I put her up there with Katherine Mansfield," wrote Beattie in an online tribute to her.

Ms Mahy, who wrote her first story when she was 7, has won numerous awards and honours for her contribution to New Zealand and children's literature.


She has written more than 120 books which have been translated into 15 languages. She has also won many of the world's premier children's book awards, including the Carnegie Medal and the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award.

Her book A Lion in the Meadow, published in 1969, launched her global career and she became a full time writer in 1980.

"First memorable author I read! What a legend,what a life! RIP," wrote Kaz Howard on the Herald's Facebook page.

- Herald Online