Rupert bear is nothing short of a national treasure. Since first appearing on the pages of the Daily Express, the loveable bear has come to occupy a place in the hearts of children and adults alike.
Rupert stands as an icon of English nostalgia- as quintessentially British as tea and crumpets. But there’s more to this little brown bear than meets the eye. To celebrate the release of our Rupert the bear themed Summer Supper Clubs (book your tickets here), we’ve put together 10 of our favourite (and often forgotten) Rupert Bear Facts.
1-Born from Battle
The friendly face of Rupert Bear was surprisingly born from a tabloid rivalry between the Daily Mail and the Daily Express.
In the midst of a competitive sales war, editor Herbert Tourtel realised that by adding a cartoon to the paper, he could appeal to a female demographic. Women would not only buy the Daily Express themselves, but also influence their husband’s choice of paper-killing two birds with one stone.
Herbert enlisted his wife, illustrator Mary Tourtel to create a cartoon strip for the newspaper and Rupert Bear was born.
2- Famous Fans
Paul McCartney bought the rights to Rupert bear a day after the Beatles famously split. Whilst acting as Rupert’s Custodian, he made several songs and a short film: Rupert and the Frog Song.
He was also beloved by Monty Python star Terry Jones, who went as far as to produce a documentary titled ‘The Rupert Bear Story’ for channel four in 1982.
3- Familiar Friends
Following Mary’s retirement, illustration was taken over by Alfred Bestall, who lived in Surbiton, Surrey. Bestall is well known for illustrating Winnie the Pooh and one of our personal favourites (and previous supper club themes), the Faraway Tree.
4- Surprisingly Skilled
A lesser-known fact about Rupert is that he’s ambidextrous! In the 1990's television series, Rupert is seen writing with his right hand but performing most other tasks (such as holding a sword, swinging a pendulum, playing a violin) with his left.
5- He Boosted Wartime Morale
A Rupert Bear annual has been printed every year since 1936- Rupert even printed during the 2nd world war (1939-1945), when the UK suffered from a crippling paper shortage.
These copies are few and far between, making them valuable collectibles.
6- He’s a Child of the International Teddy Bear Boom
As hard as it is to believe there was ever a time before the Teddy Bear, they were only invented in 1902. Whilst in Mississippi, Theodore Roosevelt refused to kill an injured bear tied to a tree, claiming it would be unsportsmanlike. This act of mercy was immortalized in textile form by a New York Shopkeeper and from this, the ‘Teddy’ Bear was born.
Stuffed bears quickly became an international sensation, with German company Steiff releasing their stuffed bear in 1903.
This widespread love of teddy bears is popularity was the founding inspiration for Rupert Bear.
7- He’s a Worldwide Best-Seller
In the years since his creation, Rupert has sold over 50 million copies worldwide. During the 1950’s Rupert enjoyed peak popularity, with sales of his Annuals topping 1.7 Million. Even today, The Rupert Bear Annuals are among the top ten annual titles sold.
8- He’s a Canterbury Local
Rupert was created a Stones throw away from our Summer Supper Club venue- just outside Canterbury, Kent. Tourtel took inspiration from the rolling green hills of the Garden of England for the creation of Nutwood.
Rupert has since stayed in a time bubble, with Nutwood serving as a symbol of simpler times in unspoilt pastoral Britain.
9- He’s Over 100 years old
Rupert’s first adventure, ‘Little lost Bear’, was first published on the 8th of November 1920- meaning the loveable Bear has been charming fans for just over a century with tales of his Adventures in Nutwood.
10- Rupert the Inventor
Surprisingly, illustrator Alfred Bestall had a highly technical background, having driven and maintained trucks and buses on the Western Front. When taking over the Rupert Bear comics, Bestall was quick to introduce near-futuristic themes to the comic- making aviation and mad inventions central to many of Rupert’s adventures.
From magical time machines to island shaped submarines, these wacky inventions played an interesting contrast to simple life in rural nutwood, adding further dimension to the well loved comic.
If you’re as charmed by Rupert as we are, why not join us in Nutwood this summer? We’re hosting a series of Rupert Bear Supper Clubs in Canterbury, a stone’s throw from where the little brown bear was born.
We’ll whisk you away to a simpler time, dazzling your tastebuds with seasonal delights and helping you create lasting memories with the friends and family you’ve missed most.
Wander around Nutwood with your welcome dandelion and burdock cocktail.
Follow the clues to the wise old goat to find your canapés.
Dine under the stars with old and new friends (or cocoon under the canopy of a marquee should we need cover from summer rain).
Gather your friends together for a unique evening supper club, or bring the family for a magical, memorable day out. Book today to avoid disappointment!