In 1867 Henry Wills opened a bookshop in Loughborough and moved into printing in 1873. Henry and William Hepworth, his business partner and friend, published "pure and healthy" literature for children and registered the Ladybird trademark in 1915.
The first Ladybird book, "Bunnykins Picnic Party" was published in 1940. The books were pocket sized and had 56 pages which came from just one sheet of paper, 30" x 40". This kept the price down which was very important for parents.
The global market started with a translation of "Child of the Temple" into Swedish - Stieg Larssen followed in some fine footprints! Now the books are available in over 60 languages. Arabic sales are a large part of the market.
The "LEARN ABOUT" books appeared in the '60s eg "How it works -the motor car" was used by the Thames Valley police driving school. 200 copies of "How it works - the computer" were used by university professors to make sure students started at the same level. 200 copies of the same book were bought by the Ministry of Defence and bound in plain brown covers to save embarrassing their trainees! This series was so popular that one noted politician asked Parliament "Has the Right Honourable Member read 'The Ladybird Book on Politics?" This might not go amiss today!
In 1971 Wills & Hepworth became Ladybird Books, and the following year were taken over by the Pearson group, then owners of Longmans, The Financial Times and the Westminster Press.
For Charles and Diana's wedding, Ladybird produced a book in 5 days and sold
1.5 million copies. Apparently Prince William learned to read using Ladybird books.
In 1991 a publishing partnership was forged between Ladybird and Disney with triumphs such as Tarzan, Lion King, Toy Story and Winnie-the-Pooh.
Ladybird books are synonymous with quality and value for money and are trusted the world over by parents.