Dedicated to old Ladybird books - 1914 -1975



What do I mean by ‘History’?  Actually a couple of different things.

When did Ladybird books begin?

Well it depends what you count as a Ladybird book.  The company behind them, Wills & Hepworth, started printing the occasional children’s book as long ago as 1914 – but these are very different from the books we associate with the brand.Books in the distinctive Ladybird format first appeared in 1940.  The next key date is 1972, when the company was sold at the height of its success.  Success gradually waned – although the decision to close down UK printing altogether in 1999 remains controversial.  On various blog posts here you will find parts of the story, which I’ll draw together some time soon.  In the meantime, here’s a brief summary

‘History’ too can refer to the biographies of the key players – especially the artists, so you’ll find a lot of information here.

It can also refer to the biggest series of Ladybird books, the History series, mainly written by L du Garde Peach and illustrated by John Kenney. Either way, you should find quite a lot of information in the posts below


A Quick History of Ladybird books

I’ve made a new ‘History of Ladybird Books’ presentation. To view it you need to click the arrow at the bottom of the presentation – it might take a few seconds to load. Keep clicking that arrow to advance through…

Read more
Artists, History, Uncategorised

RIP John Berry

I have only just heard that John Berry died just before Christmas, aged 89. When Ladybird was reaching its peak in the 1960s and 70s John Berry was one of the favoured artists. His style is photographic and was the…

Read more

A bit of history

I am delighted to have recently acquired the rather odd-looking book in the picture. It was owned (and probably made) by William Murray – author of the Key Word Reading schemes: Peter and Jane and ‘Read with Me’. It’s a…

Read more
History, Trivia

The Little Boy who ISN’T Peter

Whenever anyone writes the story of the Peter and Jane Key Word Reader books, they, not unnaturally, tell a similar story: that the first Peter and Jane book was published in 1964, written by William Murray and illustrated by Harry…

Read more
Events, History

New Ladybird Gallery

Last Friday (10th March) saw the official opening of the Museum of English Rural Life, (MERL for short) Ladybird Books gallery.  This was my second visit to the museum but I thought I should wait until after the official opening…

Read more