Elisabeth Beresford first came up with the idea for the Womble characters when walking on Wimbledon Common with her two children. She started sketching out the characters that day: Great Uncle Bulgaria was based on her father-in-law, Tobermory on her brother (an inventor), Orinoco on her son, and Madame Cholet on her mother. She hoped that the Wombles stories would encourage children to fight pollution and to think up ways of 'making good use of bad rubbish'. In fact, the Wombles so charmed the nation that they were chosen as the mascots for the Tidy Britain campaign. Since then they have had their own television series, first broadcast on 'Jackanory'.
Elisabeth Beresford was awarded an MBE for her services to children's literature in 1998 and she lived in Alderney, the Channel Islands. She died in December 2010.