Michael Bond, the creator of adored children’s book character Paddington Bear, has died aged 91.
“It is with great sadness that we announce that Michael Bond, CBE, the creator of one of Britain’s best-loved children’s characters, Paddington, died at home yesterday aged 91 following a short illness,” a statement from publisher Harper Collins read.
The marmalade-loving bear from deepest, darkest Peru captured the imagination of generations of readers with his hapless and affable manner.
The duffel-coated scamp was adopted by the Brown family in Bond’s 1958 classic tale, which has sold more than 35 million copies worldwide.
He had a label round his neck that read, “Please look after this bear”; as well as an insatiable appetite for marmalade sandwiches (which he once swapped for Marmite, to the consternation of many fans).
Bond was inspired to write his stories after spotting a teddy bear in a shop window.
“Paddington’s very real to me,” he once remarked. “I think it’s something bears have. So he comes around with me in spirit and I think an awful lot of stories start because you see a sign or you hear some conversation and you think ‘what if?’”
“Paddington is very polite in a world where people have become more selfish,” he later noted. “It’s very much every man for himself now. People don’t make eye contact in London, even walking down this street.”
In honour of one of the shining lights of children’s literature – and one of the finest bears ever to have graced our bookshelves – we present a few of our favourite quotes from the Paddington stories:
“It's nice having a bear about the house.”
“A wise bear always keeps a marmalade sandwich in his hat in case of emergency”
“I'm not a criminal,” said Paddington, hotly. “I'm a bear!”
“Things are always happening to me. I’m that sort of bear.”
The bear puffed out its chest. “I’m a very rare sort of bear,” he replied importantly. “There aren’t many of us left where I come from.”
“Oh dear,” said Mrs Brown.“We really shall have to give him a bath as soon as we get indoors. It’s getting everywhere.” Paddington looked thoughtful. It wasn’t so much that he didn’t like baths; he really didn’t mind being covered with jam and cream. It seemed a pity to wash it all off quite so soon.
“I’m glad I emigrated,” said Paddington, as he reached out a paw and pulled the plate nearer.“Do you think anyone would mind if I stood on the table to eat?”
“I’d like to leave all my interest in, please,” explained Paddington. “In case it rains.” “Well,” said the man in a superior tone of voice as he made some calculations on a piece of paper. “I’m afraid you won’t keep very dry on this. It only comes to ten pence.” “What!” exclaimed Paddington, hardly able to believe his ears. “Ten pence! I don’t think that’s very interesting.” “Interest isn’t the same thing as interesting,” said the man. “Not the same thing at all.”
Photos: Rex Features