GB stamps celebrate 100 years of Rupert Bear


03 September 2020
Royal Mail have issued a set of eight stamps to mark the 100th birthday of Rupert Bear, the popular children's character who was created in 1920 and first appeared in the Daily Express in November of that year.

The set of eight stamps to mark the 100th birthday of Rupert Bear feature the artwork of Alfred Bestall, who wrote and illustrated more than 270 Rupert stories after he took on the role in 1935.

The set is made up of four pairs of stamps, each pair featuring two illustrations from one of Rupert’s adventures

  • Rupert's Rainy Adventure (1944)
  • Rupert and the Mare’s Nest (1952)
  • Rupert And The Lost Cuckoo (1963)
  • Rupert's Christmas Tree (1947)

Rupert made his first appearance in the Daily Express on 8 November 1920. Herbert Tourtel, who wrote the stories, was an editor at the Express, and his wife, Mary, was the illustrator. 


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 In total, Mary illustrated 89 stories, which were later reprinted in books. She retired in 1935 due to her failing eyesight. 

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Her replacement was Alfred Bestall, an established artist with Punch and other magazines, who also illustrated children’s books. In total, he wrote and illustrated 224 Rupert stories for the newspaper and provided 47 other stories, mostly for the Rupert Annuals. In 1985 he was awarded the MBE for his work. He died the following year. It is his illustrations which are reproduced on the stamps which feature Rupert in adventures with some of friends including Algy Pup, Bill Badger and Pompey the baby elephant.

When Alfred Bestall took over writing and illustrating the Rupert strip, a tradition evolved whereby every picture had a rhyming couplet underneath, plus a few lines of story text to accompany them. Bestall’s couplets often ended with the promise of a mystery, so that the next day’s paper was eagerly awaited by children, curious to see how the story would unfold. 
Rupert Bear annuals have been published every year since 1936. In 1970, The Adventures of Rupert Bear aired on ITV. It ran for seven years, with over 150 episodes produced over four series.

Philip Parker, Royal Mail, said:

“We celebrate the 100th birthday of Rupert, one of the most-loved characters in children’s literature. He has introduced successive generations of children to a wonderful make-believe world of magic and adventure.”

The full set of eight stamps, available in a Presentation Pack, retails at £10.00.