Rupert the Bear
Daily Express
08 NOV 1920 - present


Mary Tourtel
Wasdale Brown
Alfred E. Bestall
Alex Cubie
Harold John
Stuart Trotter


Tourtel, Bestall,
Freddie Chaplin, various

He has had Paul McCartney sing about him; been featured in dozens of animated cartoon adventures; has had more product tie-ins than probably any other UK cartoon character; and his Christmas Annual is still a firm favourite in the stockings of the under fives. Mention Rupert Bear to any Brit and they will automatically have a mental image of a white faced little bear wearing check trousers and scarf and a red jumper. He is as British as fish and chips.

But this was not always the case and most of the above is due entirely to the work of Alfred Bestall who illustrated the adventures of Rupert from 1935 to 1965, and even after retirement kept working on the Christmas Annuals for several years.

Nothing much changes and newspaper circulation wars is one of them. In the twenties the Daily Mail had Teddy Tail (1915), the Daily Herald had Bobby Bear (1920), whilst the Daily News had the Noah Family (1920 - later re-named The Arcubs). Rupert was the Daily Express' response - a bear of their own.

Mary Tourtel, the talented wife of Daily Express sub-editor Herbert Bird Tourtel, and already renowned for her animal illustrations came up with the idea for Rupert which was approved by the Express hierarchy.

The first strip (entitled The Little Lost Bear) appeared on 8th November 1920 and Tourtel would continue to draw them until 1935 when Alfred Bestall took over - however between 1931 and 1935 many of the strips published were reprints. But worse, much worse, was the appearance in the Daily Express Children's Own (a comic supplement that included great art by the likes of George Parlett, Walter Bell and Murdock Stimpson) a version of Rupert by Wasdale Brown.

Brown seems only to have drawn for the free comic supplements that were in vogue with newspapers in the twenties and thirties - and when you look at the drawings on this page you can see why.

Daily Express Children's Own dated 03 June 1933 - Rupert drawn by Wasdale Brown
Daily Express Children's Own dated 10 June 1933 - Rupert drawn by Wasdale Brown

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