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An 'Impossible' Question
Roger Hargreaves' son, Adam, was eight years old when he asked his father what a tickle looked like. It was a query Adam later described as 'one of those impossible questions that children love to ask their parents', but his father was unfazed. To answer, he turned to his lifelong talent for drawing and produced a picture of a smiling character with long, twisting arms: Mr Tickle.
"I think he realised, once he'd drawn the character for me, that he'd hit upon an idea that could go a lot further."
Adam Hargreaves on how quickly his father developed the idea for the Mr. Men.
Within a year of the breakfast-table conversation that inspired Mr. Tickle, Roger Hargreaves had created a handful of additional characters, including the iconic Mr. Happy and Mr. Bump, and each tale was infused with his playful sense of humour. Initially, however, sharing these stories wasn't easy. He pitched his idea to a number of publishing houses but, according to his son, only ended up with 'a drawer full of rejection letters'. Fortunately, he didn't give up.
The Mr. Men Take Off
Eventually, the characters found a publishing home in 1971 and were embraced by the wider public. By 1974, a number of the Mr. Men stories could be seen on television and a few years later, a Mr. Men comic strip was carried by two national newspapers. By the end of the 1970s, the Mr. Men were even to be found in the pop charts, having released an album named Mr. Men Songs.
Fifty More Years?
As a series of family books born of a family experience, the world of Mr. Men Little Miss possesses a certain enduring and universal quality. They are stories that can be told again and again, to generation after generation, because of their simplicity, humour and relatability.
"It's such a fabulous idea that my dad came up with. I just hope that it continues to be enjoyed by children for many more decades."
Made With a Smile
Adam Hargreaves was 25 years old in 1988, when his father passed away. He soon took over the family business and, perhaps surprisingly, says one of the most difficult characters to get right was Mr. Happy. Eventually he mastered it and all his father's playful characters, then began to add his own. Adam continues to serve as the main author and illustrator for Mr. Men Little Miss and it is his design that is featured on this coin.
In 2021, the colourful characters of the Mr. Men Little Miss books celebrate 50 years of fun and laughter. Loved by families in more than 24 countries around the world, the characters were initially the brainchild of Yorkshire-born copywriter Roger Hargreaves — their inspiration coming from a question asked by one of his sons.
Celebrating 50 Years of Mr. Men Little Miss
Inspired by a breakfast converstation between a young boy and his father, the world of Mr. Men Little Miss has grown to more than 90 colourful characters loved by children and parents everywhere. This years sees the world celebrating 50 years of the series, with no sign of things slowing down.