Norman Bridwell, the man behind the children’s character Clifford the Big Red Dog, has died.
According to The New York Times, Bridwell came up with the idea of a large dog who was friends with a child because he had dreamed, as a child, of a dog large enough to ride. Bridwell said he made Clifford red because that happened to be the paint near him the day he created the dog.
The book’s protagonist and friend of Clifford, Emily Elizabeth, was named after Bridwell’s daughter, according to The Boston Globe. The name of the dog himself came from an imaginary friend Bridwell’s wife had growing up, according to the NYT; she suggested the moniker.
Bridwell’s Clifford books, which he wrote and illustrated, were published by Scholastic. More than 150 titles by Bridwell were released, according to the publisher.
“The magic of the character and stories Norman created with Clifford is that children can see themselves in this big dog who tries very hard to be good, but is somewhat clumsy and always bumping into things and making mistakes,” chairman, president, and chief executive of Scholastic Dick Robinson said in a statement. “What comforts the reader is that Clifford is always forgiven by Emily Elizabeth, who loves him unconditionally.”
A Clifford animated TV series, a film, and various products like coloring books were all created.
“I love the kids,” Bridwell told the Globe in a 2004 interview. “You couldn’t think of a better audience to write for.”
Two Clifford books – “Clifford Goes to Kindergarten” and “Clifford Celebrates Hannukah” – will be published in 2015, according to Scholastic.