Rupert Bear - History and Facts About Britain's Favourite Bear

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Rupert Bear was created by Mary Tourtel ( 1874 - 1948 ) wife of the editor of the British daily newspaper The Daily Express, in 1920.

Rupert Bear started life as a daily comic strip in the newspaper in order to compete with the Daily Mail's Teddy Tail ( first published in 1919 ) and the Daily Mirror's Pip Squeak and Wilfred, Britain's first ever comic strip introduced in 1915.

Since then, Rupert Bear has remained a firm favourite of British children and has become the pinnacle of British children's illustrated literature and British childhood culture, which is still featured in the Daily Express newspaper to this day.

Rupert Bear is an anthropomorphic character ( an animal with humanoid features and characteristics ) who is synonomous for his bright yellow, checked trousers and scarf, red jumper and white boots.

He lives in the village of Nutwood with his mother and father, Mr and Mrs Bear, and it is whilst running errands for his mother, that he often finds himself embarking on exciting adventures to magical and exotic locations, along with his friends Bill Badger, Algy Pug, Tigerlily, Bingo and Edward Trunk, to name but a few.

Although Rupert Bear is not the first comic strip hero to appear in a British tabloid, he is certainly the one who has stood the test of time, having been seen in the Daily Express every day for over 90 years and even having his own Rupert Annuals published since 1936.

Many reasons have been attributed to his long running success, from the mild mannered personalities of Rupert himself, his parents and his friends, to his magical storylines, his quintessential Britishness, the beautifully crafted illustrations and to the ease of which his stories can be read, coming as they do in four different ways - cartoon, headline, verse and normal storyline - making it possible for any child to follow his stories, what ever level a child's reading skills may be.

When Mary Tourtel retired in 1935 both the Rupert storylines and illustrations were taken over by Welsh artist Alfred Bestall, who started his career illustrating books for another world rekonowned children's author, Enid Blyton and the world famous Punch Magazine.

It is Bestall's beautiful illustrations that have been merited with Rupert's success and it is he, after over 40 years of writing and illustrating the Rupert Bear stories, that has made him more recognised as Rupert's author than that of his original creator Mary Tourtel.

Since Bestall's retirement in 1974 there have been several Rupert authors and illustrators, they have been - 

                                                       RUPERT AUTHORS 

Mary Tourtel 1920 - 1935.

Alfred Bestall 1935 - 1965.

Freddie Chaplin 1965 - 1978.

James Henderson 1978 - 1990.

Ian Robinson 1990 - 2002.

Stuart Trotter 2002 - present.

                                                       RUPERT ILLUSTRATORS. 

Mary Tourtel 1920 - 1936.

Alfred Bestall 1936 - 1974.

Alex Cube 1975 - 1977.

John Harrold 1978 - 2007.

Stuart Trotter 2008 - present.


                                           RUPERT PUBLICATIONS.

Rupert has also been portrayed in 3 other book series, 1 short film, 2 video games and 4 TV series, they were -

.The Adventures of Rupert Bear, Little Bear Lost, published by Thomas Nelson and Sons, in 1921.

Forty six books depicting Mary Tourtel's original, newspaper, comic strip stories, published by Sampson Law between 1928 - 1936. For a concise list of these titles visit - 


Eighteen of these original 46 stories were published by the retail chain Woolworth's.

12 story books published by Purnell and Sons Ltd in 1968 collectively known as the Rupert Little Bear Library.

A short, video film written by musician Paul McCartney entitled Rupert and the Frog Song, published in 1985.

A video game, Rupert and the Toymakers Party published by Quicksilva for Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum in 1985.

A video game, Rupert and the Ice Castle, published by Quicksilva for Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum in 1986.

The Adventures of Rupert Bear, 100, ten minute episodes, screened by ITV Television between 1970 - 1974.

Thirty six, five minute, still cartoon animations which were narrated in rhyme by Ray Brookes and screened by BBC Television between 1985 - 1988.

A sixty five episode children's series was filmed for the Canadian TV company Nelvana in 1991.

Thirteen ten minute episodes called Follow the Magic, screened by Channel Five Television in 2006.  


                                                 18  RUPERT FACTS.

1) Rupert's official title is Rupert Bear and not Rupert the Bear.

2) Rupert started life wearing grey checked trousers and a blue jumper, when first created by Mary Tourtel.

3) For the first 14 years both Rupert's storylines and illustrations were done soley by his creator Mary Tourtel.

4) The very first Rupert Bear storyline was called Little Bear Lost and was published on the 8th of November 1920 in the Daily Express newspaper.

5) The first Rupert Annual was called New Adventures of Rupert and was published in 1936.There have been a total of 78 published to date.

6) Rupert Bear is always portrayed as having a brown face on the cover of Rupert Annuals and a white face inside.

7) The Rupert Annuals are published by Egmont Books of London.

8) The Rupert Bear comic strips are synonomous for being the only comic strip NOT to have their text written in bubbles.

9) All things connected with Rupert is known as Rupertabilia.

10) from 1936 until 1956 the Rupert Annuals all had individual titles, not becoming known as the Rupert Annuals until 1957.

11) Rupert has his own museum dedicated to him, situated in The Museum of Canterbury, Stour Street, Canterbury, Kent, the home town of his creator Mary Tourtel.

12) Rupert has his very own website, called Followers of Rupert Bear, their website address is

13) For a full listology of all the Rupert Annuals, read John Beck's Rupert Index .

14) Rupert Bear Annuals were the only books to be published throughtout the war years from 1939 - 1945, despite there being a paper shortage during that time. It was thought that to have scrapped Rupert during that period would have been detrimental to the British morale.

15) Rupert has had a song written after him, although it is in fact wrongly titled, going by the name of Rupert The Bear, when infact Rupert has never had the definite article attributed to his name.

16) Most of the Rupert Books and Annuals are highly sought after by collectors with their prices ranging from just a few pounds for a modern copy to five figure sums for older editions. Unlike most books, that only become sought after when really old, Rupert Annuals of any age are considered collectable, due to their importance in British children's culture. 

17) The Rupert stories were the third series of comic book strips ever to be published in the U.K.

18) The most prized Rupert Bear Annuals are any editions of the very first Rupert Annual from 1936, any editions from the war years from between 1939 and 1945 or a rare 1973 annual with Rupert featured on the front cover as having a brown face and boots.Although this is normal for all Rupert annual's covers, this particular year, owing to a mistake on the part of the publishers, these annuals appeared with Rupert with a white face and boots. 


The furore which followed this grave error resulted in Alfred Bestall never writing or illustrating another Rupert story  again. In order to appease Bestall, the second print run of annuals appeared with a brown faced, brown booted Rupert, leading to these particular annuals being highly collectable. 

                                                                        RUPERT WEBSITES.

Rupert Fan Club -  website -


Rupert Book listology - 

Rupert Annual Listology - 

Rupert Souvenirs -


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