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The tale of Rupert Bear begins with the story of the Caldwell Family. The Caldwell’s were a family of artists who worked at Canterbury Cathedral on the restoration of stained-glass windows. Their daughter, Mary, went on to attend Simon Langton Girls’ School, then studied at the Sidney Cooper School of Art in Canterbury before going on to marry a man named Herbert Tourtel.
Herbert worked for the Daily Express, and knowing his wife was somewhat of an artist, she was asked by the newspaper to invent a new children’s character. Her creation, Rupert Bear, was born.
Rupert first appeared in the Daily Express on Monday 8 November 1920, in a single frame illustration called the ‘Little Lost Bear’, and continued to run in the paper every day thereafter.
Mary Tourtel illustrated and wrote her Rupert stories until 1935, after which Albert Bestall continued the strip cartoons and became well-known for the Rupert annuals – a number of which are now on display.
Did you know? Rupert was originally called Little Lost Bear and in the early books often wore a blue jumper and cream trousers, before he was given his now familiar red and yellow outfit.