The son of an Irish truck driver and his wife, Brian Jacques left school at 15 to join the merchant marines, the first of a string of jobs characterized by their strenuous nature and low pay. He was by turns a longshoreman, truck driver, fireman, logger, bus driver, policeman, and boxer. While he was working as a milkman, he was invited in to visit at one of his regular stops, the Royal School for the Blind, and eventually began to read to students regularly. The stories he read were uninspiring, so Jacques decided to write his own, and, in 1986, Redwall was born. Written for children eight and up, the 21-volume series is an international bestseller, and its medieval animal inhabitants—heroic mice, badgers, and squirrels, as well as evil-doing rats, weasels and stoats—the stuff of fantasy, brought to life. Mr. Jacques died in Liverpool after emergency heart surgery at the age of 71. Bonus: At the age of ten, when a teacher asked students to compose a story, Jacques wrote about a bird that cleaned the teeth of a crocodile. The teacher, not believing a ten-year-old could write such a quality tale, caned the young writer.