Author of Book That Inspired 'Babe' Dies at 88

British scribe began writing in his 50s and published over 100 books.

U.K. children's author Dick King-Smith died Jan. 4 in his sleep after suffering poor health for several years, his publisher, Random House Children's Books, said in a statement on Thursday.

King-Smith wrote his first book, The Fox Busters, when he was in his 50s. He is best known for penning the 1983 novel The Sheep-Pig, which inspired the 1995 Oscar-winner Babe. His 1990 story The Water Horse was also adapted into a 2007 feature film.

In addition, the prolific author wrote more than 100 other books, which have sold over 15 million copies around the world. Animals and pigs, in particular, were the writer's favorite subject.

Queen Elizabeth II honored King-Smith with an OBE for his work in children's literature last year.

King-Smith is survived by his second wife Zona, three children, 14 grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.