Reverend Wilbert Awdry 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 was published in 1945. Awdry wrote 26 Railway books in total before Christopher took over the series.