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Born Today: Paddington Bear Creator Michael Bond

In the world of famous literary bears, Corduroy and Winnie the Pooh are the first that you might think of. But there is one other bear, wearing a little red hat and a blue duffle coat, who comes to mind: Paddington Bear.

Paddington Bear first came to life in 1958 in the book “A Bear Called Paddington” and quickly captured the hearts of readers in the UK. There are now 56 books which have been translated into 40 languages and sold more than 35 million copies, several animated television shows and two animated movies about the marmalade-loving bear. 

The creator of Paddington Bear, Michael Bond, was born today on January 13th in 1926. The England born author served in World War II in the Royal Air Force and in the Middlesex Regiment of the British Army. He began writing in 1945 and became a television cameraman for the BBC after his military service.

The inspiration for Paddington came on Christmas Eve in 1956. He saw a small toy bear left on a shelf in a London store. Feeling sorry for it, he brought it home as a gift for his wife. The bear was named Paddington, named after Paddington Station that was near their home. From there, the stories about this little bear came easily. 

Part of the inspiration for Paddington’s design also came from Bond’s memory of young children being evacuated from England during the war. Bond himself said in an interview that “Paddington Bear was a refugee with a label – ‘Please look after this bear. Thank you’, and he had a little suitcase.” The Brown family that takes Paddington in was also loosely based on Bond’s own family.

Bond was recognized for Paddington’s widespread influence. In 1997, Bond was awarded an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to children’s literature, and in 2015 he was awarded a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). 

Bond passed away in 2017 at the age of 91. His creativity inspired by a simple, little bear has left a lasting legacy for readers around the world.

Check out these Paddington stories for yourself or a young reader in your life from your local library branch!

Alison Robles is a part-time clerk at the Crestwood Library. She is an avid reader with a passion for YA lit, history and science fiction. A Yonkers native, she graduated from Iona University in 2020 with a dual-degree in Marketing and Public Relations.