Scholastic is to relaunch children's series Horrible Histories in 2021, with new-look covers and a new "secret diary" series.
Written by Terry Deary and illustrated by Martin Brown, the series first launched in 1993. Next year will see the titles given new covers, modelled on newspaper front pages, as well as "striking" new layouts. The first set of redesigned titles, coming in March, includes Rotten Romans, Terrifying Tudors, Vile Victorians and Woeful Second World War.
Meanwhile in May 2021, the brand's new secret diary series will kick off with The Secret Diary of Henry VIII, in which Deary will "step into the mind of one of history's most tyrannical kings" with "wicked wit and irreverence". Elizabeth Scoggins, publisher of non-fiction, brands and licensing at Scholastic UK, struck the deal for the book with Deary and Brown directly.
A "major" PR and marketing campaign is promised throughout the year for the new publishing. Meanwhile Scholastic, along with Rocket Licensing, will also be growing the brand licensing programme which currently includes magazines, costumes, games, stationery and heritage products with a new deal secured for frozen desserts and ice creams in 2021.
The Horrible Histories have sold 6.3 million books for £32.3m through Nielsen BookScan's Total Consumer Market, which has measured sales since 1998. The top seller is Awesome Egyptians on 229,036 copies.
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."
Publisher Elizabeth Scoggins 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."