Meet Mr. Men author Adam Hargreaves (or should that be Mr. Forgetful?)

Adam Hargreaves at his desk with Mr. Men characters
Adam and friends at work. All images © 2017 THOIP (a Sanrio company)

Adam Hargreaves, the author and illustrator behind the Mr. Men and Little Miss stories, has been at Heathrow to meet fans. Here he tells us about growing up with the much-loved characters – originally created by his late father, Roger – and why he might be mistaken for Mr. Forgetful.

In fact, it was Adam who inspired the first Mr. Men book aged six, when he asked his father: “What does a tickle look like?”. Mr. Tickle was published in 1971 and the stories went on to find global success.

Mr. Tickle

What are your childhood memories of Mr. Men? Do you remember inspiring Mr. Tickle?

I was too young to remember, but I do remember my dad sitting at a makeshift desk at the end of our garage drawing the books and then suddenly our house was full of all sorts of different Mr. Men products. It was great growing up with an endless supply of drawing paper and pens, I always loved drawing, although, I was only allowed the old pens and I have discovered that I am just as protective of my pens as my dad was. Woe betide anyone taking one of my pens without permission!
Mr. Silly

Was it strange to see your father’s characters appear on TV? Who was your favourite character? Did you meet Arthur Lowe?

My favourite character was Mr. Silly. Sadly, I didn’t meet Arthur Lowe, but I have had a photograph of him and my dad on the wall in my office for the last 30 years. My dad is holding a Mr. Small book, he was very tall, and Arthur is holding Mr. Greedy.

Were the family surprised at the success of Mr. Men?

Well, you can never know how something will work out, but I know my father was very pleased and proud of the success of the Mr. Men.
Little Miss Trouble

What inspired the Little Miss series?

I’m not too sure as I never had the chance to ask my dad, but I imagine he realised that he was missing the female equivalent and they gave him an opportunity for a whole lot of new stories.

What was it like to take over from your father? What made you decide you wanted to?

Sadly, it was my dad’s death, at a relatively young age, that meant I became involved. Prior to that it’s not something I’d never imagined I might do. It has been a real pleasure to see the Mr. Men and Little Miss continuing to be read by new generations and it’s not a bad job!
Mr. Small

I read that you even went to art school while learning to get Mr. Men and Little Miss illustrations right. Are they really that hard?

That’s not exactly true, I did go to art school for a year when I left school, but not to learn to draw Mr. Men. Although, it did take me a surprisingly long time considering how simple the characters are for me to feel that I had mastered them. I have always drawn all my life, but my style of drawing is quite different to my dad’s.
Little Miss Inventor

How many characters have you created? Where do the ideas come from? Which is your proudest creation?

I’ve added 17 new characters to the series, so a long way to go to catch up with my dad! I’ve also written and illustrated over 100 other stories for the existing characters. The inspiration for each of them comes from everyday life. The Mr. Men and Little Miss stories take a one dimensional character and then place them in a situation, then turn it on its head to find the humour and to explore human nature. I think that my latest book, Little Miss Inventor, is the one I’m most pleased with.
Mr Adventure and Little Miss Explorer

If Adam Hargreaves were a Mr. Men character, what would he be called?

He already exists, Mr. Forgetful. I have a fabulously bad memory!

Who or what inspired Mr. Adventure and Little Miss Explorer?

I guess they are a combination of all those mad, crazy adventurers and explorers who put themselves in the way of danger and go off on extraordinary adventures just to see and discover something new.

Little Miss Fun

What is the secret of the characters’ appeal to children?

I believe that the enduring nature of the characters comes from the fact that they are each based on a little bit of us. They are personifications of human emotions and characteristics and children recognise themselves and their friends and family in the stories. There’s a lot of humour and entertainment to be found in human nature and that can never date.
Mr. Forgetful

Do you get fan mail? What’s the best/funniest/strangest question you’ve ever been asked?

I do get a little bit of fan mail, but I’m afraid I can’t remember one in particular. After all, I am the original Mr. Forgetful!

Meet Adam at Heathrow

Mr. Men characters with children and Adam Hargreaves

Adam Hargreaves will be dropping in to sign books and illustrations for fans young and old. And two of his characters, Heathrow’s own Mr. Adventure and Little Miss Explorer, will be making personal appearances too – they love meeting little travellers.

Here are the times and places you might meet them:

Adam Hargreaves book signings

Friday 8th December
10:00–16:00, Terminal 5
(arrivals forecourt)
Friday 15th December
10:00–16:00, Terminal 5
(departure lounge, near Boots and Travelex)
Thursday 21st December
10:00–16:00, Terminal 2
(departure lounge, play area near Gate A16)
Friday 22nd December
10:00–16:00, Terminal 4
(departure lounge, play area near Gate 6)

Mr. Adventure visits

Saturday 9th December
14:00–20:00, Terminal 4
(departure lounge)
Monday 18th December
12:00–18:00, Terminal 3
(departure lounge)

Little Miss Explorer visits

Sunday 17th December
10:00–16:00, Terminal 5
(departure lounge)
Tuesday 19th December
14:00–20:00, Terminal 4
(departure lounge)
Wednesday 20th December
12:00–18:00, Terminal 3
(departure lounge)