The iconic Mr. Men and Little Miss character series is celebrating 40 years in 2011, with August 10th marking the official anniversary date when in 1971, Mr. Tickle first appeared on book shelves, with Mr. Bump, Little Miss Sunshine, Mr. Messy and other characters have since joined him in one of the most recognisable characters series in the world.
Roger Hargreaves originally created Mr. Tickle after his six year-old son, Adam, asked him, 'Daddy what does a tickle look like?' The resulting illustration launched the world famous books, that have since been translated into 15 different languages globally.
Adam Hargreaves, now 47, commented on the 40th milestone, "It is truly incredible that something so personal to my father went on to become such a global phenomenon.
"If he were alive today, I think he would be ecstatic to see how popular his creations have become.
"My Dad managed to capture basic human characteristics that can be recognised as part of each and every one of us. We’ve all been a Mr. Happy, Mr. Funny and even a Little Miss Naughty at times."
The Mr. Men and Little Miss characters have truly developed into a worldwide phenomenon. Forty years on from when they first appeared, 120 million books have been sold, an average of one every 2.5 seconds.
In the last decade Roger Hargreaves became the third best selling British author, topped only by J.K. Rowling and Dan Brown. The average household in the UK owns more than one Mr. Men or Little Miss book, with total sales in the UK alone now at more than 75 million.
Beyond literature, the Mr. Men and Little Miss characters have more than made their mark on popular culture.
- The Mr. Tickle story replaced the Lord’s Prayer as the text that is read and recorded in a time capsule of public voice recordings at the British Library’s ‘Evolving English’ programme
- Earlier this year, Google commemorated the 76th birthday of the late Roger Hargreaves in Mr. Men’s 40th year with a series of 16 Mr. Men and Little Miss Google Doodles, the highest number of doodles ever created for a single day!
- Fashion icon Stella McCartney appeared as Little Miss Stella in 2006 and Paul Smith has made a suit inspired by Mr. Tickle - other fashion partnerships are to be announced throughout the year
Across the four decades, Mr. Men and Roger Hargreaves have appeared on a who’s who of British TV including Top of The Pops as well as their own original TV series on the BBC, which was voiced by Arthur Lowe.