Brian Jacques passed back in February, but I only learned of it the other day. It’s been years since I’ve read any of his work (though not because I am above reading children’s literature), but Jacques’ Redwall series was foundational as I began my literary journey in my first few years of elementary school.
For those of you who did not read the stories, Redwall is the name of an abbey in a fantastical world of talking animals (and no humans). The world represents medieval Britain (Jacques was English) in which the beasts would live in harmony, practicing subsistence living, until forces of evil (bad things like weasels and stoats) would show up, disturbing the peace and forcing conflict. Of the eight of twenty-one books I read the themes were consistent but the stories never felt formulaic. Martin the Warrior, the hero of Mossflower, remains in my memory as one of my first and primary literary heroes. Redwall, in addition, is the first book I remember actually remember making me want to write. Jacques person I ever wrote a fan letter to, and his response was for a long time my prized possession. (Over the years it became less prized, and I no longer have it.)
He died 5 February of this year of a heart attack, at age 71. As I said, I haven’t read his stuff in years, and what I read only represented a portion of his work. But it was comforting to know he was out there plugging away, writing books I’m looking forward to reading my children.
Brian Jacques, requiescat in pace.