Art Friday: Mary Turtel and Alfred Bestall

Rupert Bear

There are certain illustrations that take me back to my childhood in an instances, Rupert Bear would have to be one of them.  I loved Rupert Bear. I found reading difficult as a child, however that didn't stop me from spening hours with books looking at their illustrations and letting my mind create its own stories. 

So who wrote and illustrated of Rupert Bear and friends?

Well, there is more than one.

Mary Turtel (nee Caldwell) and Alfred Bestall.

Mary (1874 - 1948) was raised in an artistic family, daughter of a stained glass artiste and stonemason. Mary first created Rupert Bear in the 1920s as part of a competition. Rupert was first published as a nameless character, in a comic strip titled Little Lost Bear.  Mary retired in 1935 after her eyesight deteriorated, however her strip were continued by a Punch illustrator, Alfred Bestall. 

Alfred Bestall (1892 - 1986) was born in Burma and died in Wales. He wrote and illustrated Rupert Bear for the London Daily Express from 1935 until 1965 (produced daily). Bestall changed the style of Rupert and much of the scenery in the stories are inspired by the Snowdonia landscape in Wales. And here is an interesting fact about Alfred Bestall - he loved paper folding and was elected President of the British Origami Society! The illustrations below are by Bestall, the black and white one above is by Mary. 

Who was your favourite illustrator as a child?



  1. What an interesting story behind Rupert!
    I don't know who would have been my favourite illustrator... I do like the illustrations of Marcel Marlier - very much - his drawings are just gorgeous!

    1. I loved Rupert as a child (I always think of my brother Nick when I think of Rupert) but never thought about the storyteller or artist.

      I do like Marcel Marlier too.

  2. Now there is an old memory, completely forgotten about Rupert...
    Neat art really.


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