The celebrated children's writer and Sunday Herald political cartoonist Harry Horse and his wife Mandy were both found dead in their Shetland home yesterday.

Police have released few details but it is understood everything points to suicide and assisted suicide. Mandy, who was a native Shetlander, was suffering from multiple sclerosis and neighbours said that her condition had deteriorated in recent weeks.

Relatives found 39-year-old Mandy and Harry, 46, whose real name was Richard Horne, in their house in the village of Papil in the south- west corner of the island of Burra at around 9.45am.

Local people yesterday expressed their shock at the tragic circumstances of the couple's deaths.

Councillor Alistair Inkster said: "I know the family very well and I am deeply shocked by what has happened. I am sure the whole community is in shock, because they were a very nice couple and are very well-respected. This is a close- knit community, people know each other, and this comes as a great shock to all of us.

"The community will react to this. I am sure we all will come together and unite and get behind the family and do our best."

Richard Horne was born in Coventry in 1960. His parents separated when he was two and when he was seven he was sent to a boarding school. Bad handwriting at school turned his signature into the nickname Harry Horse.

On leaving school he started work as a solicitor's clerk, but in 1978 he left home for Edinburgh, where he used to hang around Edinburgh College of Art, sneaking into life drawing classes.

He illustrated his first children's book soon afterwards. His debut book for youngsters, The Opopogo - My Journey With The Loch Ness Monster (1983), was the first children's book to win a Scottish Arts Council Writer's Award.

Another crucial year was 1990 when Horse and Mandy found a small brown mongrel dog at the Portobello cat and dog rescue home, immediately after their wedding. They named her Roo and her many peculiarities inspired Horse to spend a decade writing bestselling children's books about the dog such as The Last Polar Bears, The Last Gold Diggers which won the 1998 Smarties Prize, and The Last Cowboys.

Richard Walker, editor of The Sunday Herald, said: "Harry was a remarkable talent and a remarkable man.

"Persuading him to contribute to The Sunday Herald each week is one of the things I am most proud of in my time as editor. He will be very badly missed. His style was unique and is really irreplaceable."