The Thomas the Tank engines stories were created by the Reverend Wilbert Awdry, who was born in Hampshire in 1911. He grew up close to the railway and was convinced that the steam engines all had different personalities. He used to imagine conversations between them. Later when he was grown up and his son Christopher became ill with measles, Wilbert invented the Thomas stories to entertain him. Christopher kept asking for more stories and Wilbert began writing them. The first of the Railway series books was published in 1945. Awdry wrote 26 Railway books in total before his son, Christopher, took over the series. There have since been multiple, hugely popular Thomas TV series. The latest is released in 2018 and sees the engines travelling the world!