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Rupert the Bear is putting Bibles in people’s hands worldwide. Photo credit: Elliott Simpson/Museum of Canterbury with Rupert Bear Museum (used under Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0)

Rupert the Bear is on a Bible mission

Rupert the Bear has teamed up with Bible Society to provide Scriptures to people around the world.

Rupert’s helping hand, or paw, came about when writer and illustrator Alfred Bestall remembered Bible Society in his will.

Alfred produced the popular Rupert the Bear columns in the Daily Express for 30 years. Rupert, who lives in Nutwood, first appeared in the newspaper 100 years ago in November 1920.

If one of Alfred’s Rupert illustrations appear at auction, a small portion of what is paid – Alfred’s royalties – goes toward Bible work. Alfred wrote this instruction into his will.

Between 1997 to 2019, nine illustrations of Rupert the Bear by Alfred appeared at auction, according to recent statistics received by Bible Society.

Alfred was born in Burma to missionary parents in 1892. He illustrated books by Enid Blyton and in 1935 took over the Rupert the Bear column. Alfred produced his last Rupert story in 1965. He was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire in the 1985 birthday honours, but could not attend due to ill-health.

However, on his 93rd birthday, Prince Charles reportedly sent him this message: ‘I have heard that you were sadly unable to receive your MBE from the Queen recently. I wanted to send you my congratulations on your award and to wish you a very happy birthday with many happy returns. As a child I well remember your marvellous illustrations of Rupert Bear.’

Alfred died on 15 January 1986, aged 93, but no royalties were paid before 2012, which is when a legal clause affecting resale rights came into effect.

There are many ways of leaving a gift in your will for Bible work after you have taken care of those closest to you. If you would like more information on how it works, please click the button below.

Find out about leaving a gift in your will for Bible work

Author: Simon Bartz, 6 May 2021

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