Horrible Histories celebrates almost 30 years with new publishing and live experiences

The popular children’s book series, Horrible Histories is expanding on its partnerships in the publishing and live entertainment space, detailing its ambitions to ‘captivate new generations’ and remain a ‘pioneering brand’ with child and crossover appeal.

Written by Terry Deary and illustrated by Martin Brown, Horrible Histories has been a popular choice among kids and adults since its series launch in 1993. This year. the world’s best-selling children’s history series has re-launched via a major partnership with The Time to showcase its new, ‘read all about it’ newspaper look, as well as its new strand of Secret Diaries, enabling readers to delve into the minds of famous people from history.

The Horrible Histories book series has inspired a star-studded feature film, Horrible Histories – Rotten Romans, as well as a BAFTA award winning TV series, hit stage shows, and wide licensing partnerships. As the series celebrates over 28 years of popularity, Scholastic has detailed new creative collaborations.

Following over 16 years of creating and performing Horrible Histories stage-shows across the UK and internationally, licensee Birmingham Stage Company has partnered with Woods Silver Fleet on the river Thames to launch the Horrible Histories: Terrible Thames experience.

Leaving from Tower Bridge Quay, the boldly branded boat takes an audience of passengers on a journey along the city’s historic river to discover the terrible truth about London’s iconic landmarks, all performed by actors from the Horrible Histories stage-shows.

Throughout the pandemic, Horrible Histories stage-shows continued to perform to audiences around the UK with partner Car Park Party. The shows have now just returned to the Garrick Theatre with Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain 5 where they are the longest running children’s theatre show in the West End.

Meanwhile, Warwick Castle, a long-term Horrible Histories licensee, and author Terry Deary have unveiled the new Vile Victorians, a gruesome addition to the already historicallyrich Horrible Histories Maze at the UK’s leading family attraction. The Horrible Histories Maze is both inspired by traditional geometric mazes and up to date with multi-sensory additions and packed full of Deary’s foul facts and Martin Brown’s awesome artwork.

Terry Deary said: “Children and adults will always be interested in the horrible side of history and we can learn a lot from it. I am glad to be able to shine a light on the terrible truth about historical times through my books. These new partnerships take my stories to new places and open people’s eyes in new ways.”

Elizabeth Scoggins, publisher, non fiction, brands and licensing, said, “Horrible Histories is unrivalled in its ability to entertain and engage people of all ages with history – its humour and gritty edge is intrinsic to the longevity and growth of the brand.”

With Penelope Daukes, Brand and PR Director, Scholastic is actively seeking new opportunities for Horrible Histories. She added: “Every new partnership that we welcome to the brand reflects the beating heart of Terry Deary and Martin Brown’s bestselling books; being uniquely funny, factual and, importantly, horrible. We are always on the look-out for exciting new partners to join the story.”

Together with Rocket Licensing, Scholastic UK is keen on growing the Horrible Histories licensing portfolio, which currently spans magazines, costumes, games, stationery, and heritage products, while a new deal has been secured for frozen desserts and ice creams. Scholastic UK has promised that new attractions and product ranges are imminent.

The 2021 book relaunch was marked with a major PR campaign including a front-page partnership and national competition with The Times, national interviews with Terry Deary on BBC Breakfast, Newsround, Saturday Mash-Up, The Sun, The i and more. The books have recently been described as: ‘A cultural phenomenon’ (Daily Telegraph), ‘A winning formula’ (Evening Standard) and ‘The cultural behemoth that has been merrily illustrating the gruesome corners of the past since 1993’ (The Times).

Horrible Histories: Queen Victoria’s Secret Diary is out in November 2021 and Horrible Histories: Right on Track about the history of terrible train travel will be launched in March 2022 with partnerships and a major marketing and PR campaign.