History Made Horrible: Terry Deary

Terry Deary’s hugely popular Horrible Histories have leapt beyond the page onto airwaves, stage and screen. Peter J. Beck considers the success of the format and what it tells us about history aimed at children. 

Terry Deary’s series of books, published by Scholastic, has sold over 21 million copies worldwide since first appearing in 1993. Translated into some 40 languages including Chinese, Korean and Russian, the format has transferred with similar success to CDs, DVDs, roadshows, stage plays, radio and television programmes and museum exhibitions. Since 2005 several million CDs have been distributed free in in promotions by Kellogg’s cereals and the Daily Telegraph.

The franchise shows no sign of flagging. Currently, the Birmingham Stage Company is on tour performing two Horrible Histories plays.

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