Originally launched almost 30 years ago in 1993, the Horrible Histories series did away with the dry approach to history children were often subjected to in school, and took a look at humanities past with humour and wit, while also educating readers on what life was like for Roman soldiers or Egyptian pharaohs. The series was hugely popular and spawned a number of spin-offs, including a TV series and film. Those of you who enjoyed reading the books as kids and would like to introduce history to young readers will be pleased to learn the series is set to relaunch next year.
As The Bookseller reports, In 2021, the books by writer Terry Deary and illustrator Martin Brown will be reissued with new covers that are inspired by the front pages of newspapers. The first wave of reissues, coming in March, will consist of Rotten Romans, Terrifying Tudors, Vile Victorians, and Woeful Second World War. These will be followed by a new Secret Diaries series in May, the first of which will be The Secret Diary of Henry VIII, which will see Deary “step into the mind of one of history’s most tyrannical kings” with “wicked wit and irreverence”.
Scholastic’s relaunch of the series will involve a “major” marketing campaign and will see the brand expand with magazines, costumes, games, stationery, and even a new deal secured for frozen desserts and ice creams in the upcoming year. Nielsen BookScan’s Total Consumer Market has recorded the series’ sales since 1998 and found the series has sold over 6.3 million books for £32.3m.
Speaking of his books, Deary said: “The Horrible Histories books are like a flaming torch that shine a light on the dark corners of history; sinister shadows where traditional children’s history books have held their noses and hurried past. The tales they tell are as fresh as tomorrow’s newspapers and that’s why the readers have stayed so loyal for their 28-year-long history.” Brown added: “History has the best stories. You couldn’t make it up. And drawing those stories — the detail, the characters, the costumes — would be hard work if it wasn’t so much fun.”
Elizabeth Scoggins, the publisher, said: “With humour and an unflinching eye, Horrible Histories continues to tell the stories of the past, exposing terrible times, revealing rotten rulers and sharing the struggles of everyday people through the ages. We are very proud to publish Terry Deary and Martin Brown whose wit and brilliance in words and illustration have made a truly iconic series. We are excited to reach new audiences with our robust new programme of publishing and look forward to working with new licensees and partners as we grow the reach of this unique brand.”