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Ladybird Frequently Asked Questions

Q. When was the first Ladybird book published?
A. Wills & Hepworth published their first Ladybird pocket-sized book in 1940 - it was called Bunnikin's Picnic Party and was the start of series 401.

Q. Who owns Ladybird Books?
A. Up until 1972 Henry Wills and William Hepworth were the owners of Ladybird before it was sold to the Pearson Group - In 1999, Ladybird became integrated into the Penguin Group and the Ladybird's original printing site in Loughborough was closed down.

Q. Who owns the copyright to Ladybird imagery?
A. Frederick Warne & Co own the copyright to all Ladybird images - the exceptions to this are the 1940/50s and 1960s logos which are own by Dorling Kindersley.

Q. Do Ladybird still publish today?
A. Yes, Ladybird continue to publish a wide variety of titles; from books for babies and toddlers, to reading schemes, home learning and National Curriculum titles, activity books, film tie-ins as well as classic and modern stories. Visit Ladybird's website to see what they currently have for sale.

How many titles have Ladybird published?
A. Wee doubt if Ladybird themselves could put a truly accurate figure on this, but our research shows that between 1940 and 1980 (the first forty years) 63 different series were published which amounts to 663 individual titles.

Q. What Ladybird titles are considered rarest?
A. There are many collectable Ladybird books but the ones that are most sought-after by collectors are High Tide, The Impatient Horse, The Adventures of Wonk series, Tootles the Taxi, The Tinkers Wig and the Tasseltip tales series.

Wee do however consider the rarest book of them all to be 'The Computer - How it Works' (1971) - this is not the standard issue but rather a private publication that was especially produced for the Ministry of Defence in 1972. The M.O.D specifically asked for the book to be published in plain covers and without copyright information as not to embarrass their training staff!

Read more about rare Ladybird titles >

Q. Who were the authors & illustrators?
A. There have been literally hundreds of authors and illustrators who have been employed by Ladybird Books. The more prolific Ladybird writers include, Vera Southgate, A J MacGregor, Noel Barr, L Du Garde Peach and Sheila McCullagh. The youngest author to write for Ladybird was Jayne Fisher, who at the age of six started her Garden Gang series.

There have also been writing contributions from Sir Paul McCartney and Spike Milligan.

Some of the more well known Ladybird illustrators include A J MacGregor for his 401 books, Robert Lumley and Eric Winter for most of the Well Loved Tales and Harry Wingfield, who was responsible for over a third of the artwork for the Key Words Reading Scheme books otherwise known as the Peter and Jane books.

Famous artist C F Tunnicliffe also illustrated five books for Ladybird - What to Look For in Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter were a set of four books within the 'Nature' series, 536. A slightly later series, 563, saw another title, The Farm, being illustrated by Tunnicliffe.

Q. How can I spot a first edition Ladybird book?
A. It is actually quite hard to identify a first edition Ladybird book - only later editions from the 1970s onwards would state 'First Edition' on the copyright page of their books. The earlier books from 1940 to 1965 are harder to identify but there are quite a few guidelines to follow that will help you determine whether you have a first edition or not. Find out more

Q. What are the most popular Ladybird books?
A. The Well Loved Tales series has to be one of Ladybird's top sellers - these were popular fairy tales adapted by Vera Southgate and illustrated mainly by Eric Winter and Robert Lumley.

The Key Words Reading Scheme books, more commonly known as the Peter and Jane books, were hugely popular with schools and with young mothers who were teaching their young children how to read. Educationalist, William Murray, had found that just 12 words make up 25% of all the words we speak.

Other popular titles in Ladybird include Tootles the Taxi, Downy Duckling and the What to look for in Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter books which were illustrated by renowned artist Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe.

Q. Besides books, what else is collectable?
A. There are quite a few collectable Ladybird items that you can keep your eye out for - these include, work cards, workbooks, jigsaws, videoes, film strips and slides etc . .

To see some examples of these items, have a look at our other collectable Ladybird items page.

Ladybird Articles
The M.O.D. Computer book myth
Tootling About - registration plates
Ladybird protest NHS sex manual
Pagan birdlife inspired by Ladybird
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Roger Twinn - Ladybird author
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Roger Twinn
Random fact

In 1961 Wills & Hepworth changed their Ladybird logo from that of an open-winged ladybird to one with closed wings.

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