It started with a Tickle

Roger Hargreaves reads to twins Sophie and Amelia, watched by sons Adam and Giles.
Roger Hargreaves reads to twins Sophie and Amelia, watched by sons Adam and Giles.
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ONE of the nation’s best loved children’s book series has reached the ripe old age of 40 this week.

The Mr Men series of books was created by Cleckheaton-born author Roger Hargreaves in 1971 and the series has spawned television shows, audiobooks and its own Little Miss spin-off series of books.

Mr Tickle.

Mr Tickle.

Mr Hargreaves was born in Bath Road in 1935, and spent his formative years living in Halifax Road, where a commemorative plaque has been installed to honour Spen’s most illustrious author.

His first book was Mr Tickle, after his youngest son, Adam, asked what a tickle looked like. Mr Hargreaves then drew a blob, with a face and long arms and the legend was born.

Mr Hargreaves died of a stroke in 1988, but Adam continued to pen the series until his family sold the rights to the series for a reported £29m in 2004.

Speaking this week, Adam, 47, said: “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 as part of each and every one of us. We’ve all been a Mr Happy, Mr Funny or even a Little Miss Naughty at times.”

The characters have become iconic in their own way and the books have sold more than 120m copies worldwide, with 49 Mr Men books and 36 Little Miss books translated into a half-a-dozen languages.

Mr Hargreaves’ life has been incorporated into local history talks around the Spen Valley and Arriva buses are adorned with the Mr Men inspired designs of local school children. His creations are also celebrated in the Civic Society’s fame trail around the Spen Valley.

Civic Society member Jennifer Holroyd said: “I think it’s important to remember him because he is a part of Spen Valley’s history, along with a lot of other less-well known people.

“Worldwide, everyone knows his characters.”