The Creator of Paddington Bear Has Died 

Photo via Getty Images.

Michael Bond, the creator of Paddington Bear—a hallmark of many
childhoods over the course of the twentieth century—has died at
91.

It was announced by HarperCollins—who’d been his publisher for
nearly 60 years—via Facebook. “Over 35
million Paddington books have been sold worldwide and enjoyed
by generations of children,” the note said.

The original Paddington, according to NPR, was a
pitiful stuffed animal left behind after all the others had
been snatched up by Christmas shoppers: “I came across a small
bear looking, I thought, very sorry for himself as he was the
only one who hadn’t been sold.” According to a 2014 interview
with the
Guardian
—pegged to the release of the live-action
movie, of which the less said the better—the beloved character
was heavily informed by World War II:

In 1958, when he was writing the first book, A Bear Called
Paddington
, Bond was partly inspired by memories of
the evacuee children he saw pass through Reading station from
London: “They all had a label round their neck with their
name and address on and a little case or package containing
all their treasured possessions. So Paddington, in a sense,
was a refugee, and I do think that there’s no sadder sight
than refugees.”

The books also feature Paddington’s best friend, Mr Gruber, a
Notting Hill antique dealer and Hungarian refugee, who can
empathise with Paddington as a fellow “outsider”. Bond based
the character on his agent, Harvey Unna, who had escaped
Germany just before the war – “He was about to have been made
the youngest judge in Germany when somebody sent him a
message telling him to get out of the country quickly, they’d
seen his name on a list. So he arrived with about £10 in his
pocket”.

But Paddington’s character was largely inspired by Bond’s
father, according to his BBC obituary:

Bond’s father was the mild-mannered manager of the local post
office and was the basis for the character of Paddington
Bear, the unassuming ursine stowaway.

“My father was a very polite man and he always wore a hat,”
Bond said. “We’d go on holiday to the Isle of Wight and he
used to go in the sea with his trousers rolled up and keep
his hat on in case he met someone he knew and would have
something to raise. He would have been mortified if he
hadn’t.”

Which sounds like Paddington Bear, all right.

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