(28 January 1874 – 15 March 1948, UK)
Mary Tourtel was the creator of ‘Rupert Bear’, the famous newspaper comic of the Daily Express. Born in Kent, she was already an illustrator of children’s books when she was asked to create a character for the Daily Express. Although she was wife of the Express newspaper’s night news editor, Herbert Tourtel, it wasn’t simply a case of nepotism. When all attempts to find an animal character that would enable the Express to counter its Fleet Street rivals had failed, she came to the rescue with the furry bear.
A trained artist, particularly skilled in the depiction of animals, she wrote and drew many ‘Rupert’ stories between 1920 and 1935, introducing such memorable new characters as Podgy Pig and Bill Badger. Failing eyesight forced her to leave the artwork of the strip to Alfred Bestall, but she remained involved in the strip’s creation until her death in 1948.