The Dutch creator of Miffy the cartoon rabbit has died aged 89, his publishers have announced.

Writer and illustrator Dick Bruna died peacefully in his sleep on Thursday night in the Dutch city of Utrecht.

He created the much loved character in 1955 as a story to entertain his young son. More than 80 million Miffy books have been sold globally.

Over the years, Bruna wrote more than 100 books but Miffy was by far his most popular and enduring character.

At first, he was uncertain whether the rabbit was a boy or a girl, but settled the matter by putting her in a dress for the sixth book, Miffy’s Birthday, in 1970.

A girl hugs a Miffy statue outside the Nijntje Museum, or Miffy Museum in Utrecht (17 February 2017)

Mourners gathered outside the Nijntje Museum, or Miffy Museum, in Utrecht as news of Mr Bruna’s death spread

Dick Bruna standing beside a Miffy character in Utrecht. (31 march 2011)

Miffy’s success was in part due to the simplicity of Dick Bruna’s design

Universal language: Celeste Chipperfield, London Design Museum

Dick Bruna was all about doing more with less. Economy of line was the key behind the much loved Miffy character.

Through only a few simple shapes, heavy graphic lines and primary colours, Bruna was able to capture and convey a huge amount of personality and character.

Miffy delights adults and children alike and we hope that her innocent and loving personality will continue to resonate – she is such a great example of the universal language of illustration.

In the Netherlands, she is called Nijntje (“little rabbit” as a Dutch toddler might say it). It was her first English translator, Olive Jones, who christened her Miffy.

Bruna was still writing Miffy stories in his old age and his books have been translated into more than 50 languages.

The museum dedicated to her name in Utrecht has tweeted a picture of the white rabbit, arms behind her back, a single tear below her left eye.

Dutch publisher Marja Kerkhof told the AP news agency that he used “very clear pictures, almost like a pictogram”.

She said his illustrations were often best characterised by what he left out, allowing him “to go to the essence of things” while simultaneously using “very strong powerful primary colours”.

“Even today if you see it in a store you would think, ‘hey this looks different to a lot of other things out there’,” she said. “There is no clutter, it’s all very clear.”

Miffy the worldwide merchandising marvel

Miffy book on display at Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum (27 August 2015)

Stories about Miffy are enjoyed by children all over the world

Is especially popular in Japan, where she has her own web page section in The Japan Times, as well as a cafe serving food dedicated to her name in TokyoIs also popular in China, where train carriages in Guangzhou were decorated in her image in 2015 to celebrate her 60th birthdayWas in 2004 appointed the official “family tourist ambassador” to New York CityGermany is one of numerous European countries to have a dedicated Miffy websiteDoes not like to be mistaken for her rival, the Japanese character Hello Kitty

Source: BBC

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