Charles Roger Hargreaves (1935–1988) was an English author and illustrator of children's books, best remembered for the Mr. Men and Little Miss series, intended for very young readers. The simple and humorous stories, with brightly coloured, boldly drawn illustrations, have been part of popular culture since 1971, with sales of over 85 million copies worldwide in 20 languages.
Roger Hargreaves was born in a private hospital at 201 Bath Road, Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire to Alfred Reginald and Ethel Mary Hargreaves. He grew up at 703 Halifax Road, Hartshead Moor, Cleckheaton, outside of which there now is a commemorative plaque. He attended Sowerby Bridge Grammar School (now Sowerby Bridge High School).] He then spent a year working in his father's laundry and dry-cleaning business before gaining employment in advertising. His original ambition was to be a cartoonist, and in 1971, while working as the creative director at a London firm, he wrote the first Mr. Men book, Mr. Tickle. Initially he had difficulty finding a publisher, but once he did the books became an instant success, selling over one million copies within three years. In 1974 the books spawned a BBC animated television series, narrated by Arthur Lowe. A second series the following year saw newer titles transmitted in double bill format with those from the first series. By 1976, Hargreaves had quit his day job.
In 1981 the Little Miss series of books was launched, and in 1983 it also was made into a television series, narrated by Pauline Collins, and her husband John Alderton. Although Hargreaves wrote many other children's stories—including the Timbuctoo series of 25 books, John Mouse and the Roundy and Squarey books—he is best known for his 46 Mr. Men and 33 Little Miss books. Between 1975 and 1982 Hargreaves lived with his family on Guernsey. Then they settled at Sussex House Farm near Cowden, Kent. Hargreaves died in 1988 at age 53 at the Kent and Sussex Hospital in Royal Tunbridge Wellsfollowing a stroke. After his death, his son Adam continued writing and drawing the Mr. Men and Little Miss characters with new stories.
Hargreaves and his wife had four children: Adam, Giles and twins Sophie and Amelia. The first of the Mr. Men characters is reported to have been created when Adam, at age 6, asked his father what a tickle looked like. Hargreaves drew a figure with a round orange body and long rubbery arms, which became Mr. Tickle. He recalls that his father was 6ft 5in (1.96 m) tall. The book Little Miss Twins was written for Hargreaves' twin daughters.