It was 25-years-ago today that Sunderland-born writer Terry Deary began work on two very famous books.

Terrible Tudors and Awesome Egyptians aimed to make history come alive for children by combining facts and dates with silly jokes, disgusting details and plenty of blood, guts and gore.

These books would mark the start of Terry’s Horrible Histories series, with titles such as Vicious Vikings, Villainous Victorians, Rotten Romans and Groovy Greeks following over the years.

A quarter-of-a-century after he started the series, Terry’s books have sold more than 30 million copies and been translated into 40 languages.

Working alongside illustrator Martin Brown, Terry has livened up history learning for a whole generation of youngsters.

Terry Deary said, “I published my first children’s book 40-years-ago and I remember the publisher saying that writing is like a sausage machine – you have to keep putting it in one end to get the product out of the other.”

“I spent my youth in my dad’s Sunderland butcher’s shop making sausages so that is an image that has stuck with me.”

“300 books later, I’m still turning the handle to churn them out.”

“The secret of longevity in this industry – since aspiring authors ask – is to create a series of books, a string of sausages.”

“Twenty-five years after producing the first Horrible Histories books, I’ve produced over 100 of those titles, selling well over 30 million copies.”

“That’s an awful lot of sausage.”

Horrible Histories is now a multi-million-pound industry, which has produced stage shows and award-winning TV programmes as well as books.

Terry Deary was born in Sunderland in 1946. His father was a butcher in Hendon and his mother managed a clothes shop. Terry has been an author for 40 years in total, writing fiction and non-fiction books for both adults and children.

Terry was awarded an honorary degree as Doctor of Education by the University of Sunderland in 2000.

Mikaela Morgans, who lectures in primary education at the University of Sunderland, said, “Terry Deary’s humorous approach to what can sometimes be a dry subject enthuses and engages children of all ages and enables them to see the fun side of history whilst still learning about important events, periods and people.”

“I am sure that most children who have attended primary schools in the past 25 years remember reading Horrible Histories and what they learned from the books.”

To find out more about the Horrible Histories series, please visit

(Featured image courtesy of Elliott Brown, from Flickr Creative Commons)

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