Character Bears Part Two: Rupert

When we were little one of our favourite storybooks was our Rupert the Bear annual. This is the one from 1960 and I can still remember the illustration on the front cover.

Our 1960 Rupert annual= photo by Naomi

For those of you who may not be familiar with him, Rupert began as a comic strip character created by the artist Mary Tourtel who was a well-known illustrator of children’s books. The strip first appeared in a British newspaper, the Daily Express, in 1920 meaning that next year will be Rupert’s Centenary year. The Daily Express published the first Rupert Annual in 1935. Rupert Annuals are still being published today. After Mary Tourtel retired due to ill health Rupert was written and illustrated by:

  • 1935-73 – Alfred Bestall
  • 1974-78 – Alex Cubie, illustrator & Freddie Chaplain: Author
  • 1978-2007 – John Harrold
  • 2007 – ? – Stuart Trotter

Naomi has collected several old Rupert Annuals. These would all have been written and illustrated by Alfred Bestall and this is Rupert the way we knew him. It is interesting that although Rupert is generally seen as a white bear the covers of the annuals nearly always depicted him as a brown bear.

Rupert Annuals 1958 – 1961. My oldest ones

Rupert was a child bear who lived with his parents in a place called Nutwood Village. His best friend was Bill the Badger but he had many other friends such as Algy Pug, Edward Trunk and Willie Mouse. Rupert went on all sorts of adventures with his friends where they met fairies and elves, unicorns and even pirates. The main Rupert story that sticks in my mind is one where Rupert meets Jack Frost in the woods and brings him home.

Three Rupert comic books

There were also Rupert comics and in the 1970s there was an animated puppet show which ran for seven years. In 1984 Paul McCartney, who had bought the rights to Rupert from the Daily Express, wrote and produced an animated film called “Rupert and the Frog Song” It is available to watch on YouTube and I will add a link at the end of this post if you would like to see it. Rupert also appeared in a British/Canadian animated series between 1991-97 with episodes based on the Mary Tourtel and Alfred Bestall stories.

Of course, there were also Rupert Bear toys. Here is Naomi’s Rupert wearing his favourite red jumper and yellow check trousers with matching scarf. He has rather a nice expression don’t you think?

Rupert

Naomi’s Rupert is tagged Tebro. Tebro Toys was a British company based in Bradford and owned by a man named Stafford Hegginbottom whose factories seemed to have an unfortunate tendency to burn down.

Other companies who produced Rupert were Merrythought and Steiff. A company called Mayco made vinyl Rupert’s that squeaked.

More Rupert

3 comments

  1. That Rupert annual was one of my favourite childhood books. I’ll show my 1970s Rupert annuals in another post some time so people can see them as they have such lovely artwork on the covers. I always loved the Rupert illustrations in the stories.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I loved Rupert Bear as a child as well. My Dad used to get the Daily Express and I would cut out the Rupert Bear stories and stick them in a scrap book. My sister had a bendy rubber Rupert Bear. He was brown as in the annual pictures. I still have an annual somewhere. There was also a TV series the jingle went:
        Rupert, Rupert the Bear,
        Everyone sing his name,
        Rupert, Rupert the Bear
        Everyone come and join
        In all of his games.
        When we had to make clay head puppets at school, we did Rupert Bear. I made Rupert and my three friends made Bill Badger, Podgy Pig and Ferdie Fox.

        Liked by 2 people

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