Author Mal Peet has died, his agent Peter Cox has announced.
Peet died on Monday night (2nd March), after being diagnosed with cancer just last Christmas.
The writer, whose latest novel The Murdstone Trilogy came out in 2014, won a number of awards during his career, including the Carnegie Medal, the Guardian Children’s Book Prize and the Branford Boase Award.
Cox said: “Mal was a writer’s writer. He was universally adored and admired by other writers. His talent was a prodigious as his warm, wide-open heart. I have lost a dear friend, and we have all lost an author of exceptional genius. His best and most exciting years were still ahead: his premature death is utterly tragic.”
Peet was born in 1947 and began his writing career at the age of 40, writing primarily for educational publishers, most notably Oxford University Press, in collaboration with his wife Elspeth Graham.
His first novel, Keeper, was published in 2003, followed by Tamar in 2005, The Penalty in 2006, Exposure in 2008 and Life: An Exploded Diagram in 2011, all published by Walker Books in the UK and Candlewick Press in the USA. With his wife, he wrote books for younger readers, including Cloud Tea Monkeys, illustrated by Juan Wyngaard, which was shortlisted for the 2011 Kate Greenaway Medal.
Jane Winterbotham, publishing director at Walker Books, said: "We are all devastated by the loss of one of our finest writers. Mal was a brave and original author, tackling many of life’s big issues in his work, and his many awards are testament to the quality of his writing. We have been so proud to be his publisher, and the whole company will miss him as a great writer and as a warm, witty, energetic, life-loving man."
Kate Wilson, m.d. of Nosy Crow, said: "Receiving a picture book manuscript from Mal and his hugely talented wife, Elspeth, after I’d met them at a Society of Authors event was such a red-letter day. We made an offer within an hour or so: who wouldn’t want to have something that reflected Mal’s warmth and wit and edge on their list? We are so sad for Elspeth and the rest of his family, and sad, too, that we had so little time to get to know him. That he leaves behind some remarkable books is some consolation, but that there won’t be more is a huge loss.'
Several authors paid tribute to Peet on twitter. Children's laureate Malorie Blackman said: "A fantastic writer with a unique voice. He will be missed." David Almond tweeted: “Goodbye, Mal Peet, my friend. Wonderful writer. Beautiful funny brave bright tender man.”
Tweeting the news of Peet’s death to his followers, John Green wrote: “Mal Peet, one of the greatest YA writers and a man I greatly admired (even when we disagreed!) has died.”
Peet’s first novel for adults, The Murdstone Trilogy, was published in the UK last year by David Fickling Books.
Speaking to The Bookseller about The Murdstone Trilogy, Peet said he did not see YA as a genre: “It’s definitely not my attempt to break out of the YA bracket, because if I were to say I’m breaking out of it, I’d have to recognise it [as a genre]. I can’t really claim it doesn’t exist and simultaneously break out of it.”
Peet is survived by his wife Elspeth and his children Tom, Lauren and Charlie, and his grandchildren Grace and Ezra.
An online book of condolence has opened for his readers.