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Tragic story behind inspiration for Christmas classic The Snowman

Tragic story behind inspiration for Christmas classic The Snowman

Raymond Briggs led a life of tragedy and didn't want his books to have happy endings due to his grief

It’s that time of year again, where we see a certain Welsh boy walking through the air with his magical snowman, but the story behind The Snowman is heartbreaking.

Children’s films are generally harmless and come from a place of innocence, however, people are starting to realise that the traditional classic we grew up with isn’t as jolly as once thought.

The wordless animated film depicts the story of a little boy and his snowman who comes to life and takes him on an adventure to the North Pole.

We all know about it as it’s been on the Christmas TV cycle since its released in 1982.

And you'll likely remember the tale has a 'ghastly' ending, and it was inspired by the tragedy in creator Raymond Briggs' own life.

The Snowman is a fan-favourite around Christmas time.
Instagram/ @officialthesnowman

Within a three-year period, Briggs lost both of his parents to diseases and then his wife, Jean to leukaemia.

Having previously decided not to have children due to Jean suffering with schizophrenia, it meant that when his family died, he was completely alone.

He went on to tell The Telegraph: "That was a jolly time. That was when I contemplated suicide. Well, only theoretically.

"I didn't do anything serious about it. I just thought, well, 'what's the point? You've got no mum, no dad, no wife. All gone... let's get out.'

"You have a bit of good news, like being given a new job and the first thing you want to do is rush home and tell your mum and dad or wife, but you've got no one to tell."

Due to his continued grief over the loss of his wife and parents, he refused to paint a happy ending for the boy and The Snowman, which is why he melted and left the boy alone.

He once told The Telegraph: "It's all a rather ghastly scene, with the snowman's eyes and scarf lying there in the slush, rather horrific, all a bit odd.

Raymond Briggs led a tragic life while writing his renowned books.
Facebook/ Raymond Briggs

"I don't believe in happy endings. Children have got to face death sooner or later.

"Granny and grandpa die, dogs die, cats die, gerbils and those frightful things - what are they called? - hamsters: all die like flies. So there's no point avoiding it."

But Briggs’ unfortunate life wouldn’t end with the death of his family, as he went on to meet his partner of 42 years sometime later, named Liz.

She would go on to pass away from Parkinson's disease in 2015.

The author did reflect upon his misfortune when speaking to the Guardian: "Everyone always says it's such a family time. Well, that's all right if you've got a family but a lot of people haven't.

"If you're my age then the whole generation ahead of you has gone, and if you're an only child, as I was, you've got no brothers and sisters.

"If you've not had any children yourself then there's nobody. Not a soul."

Briggs went on to pass away last year at age 88.

Featured Image Credit: Mike Marsland/WireImage/Getty Images/Lupus films

Topics: News, TV and Film, Christmas, Books