Fifty years ago today, on 13 October 1958 "A Bear Called Paddington" was first published. Paddington Bear was created by an English author called Michael Bond.
Michael Bond recalls in his own words how Paddington first came into being:
"I bought a small toy bear on Christmas Eve 1956. I saw it left on a shelf in a London store and felt sorry for it. I took it home as a present for my wife Brenda and named it Paddington as we were living near Paddington Station at the time. I wrote some stories about the bear, more for fun than with the idea of having them published. After ten days I found that I had a book on my hands. It wasn’t written specifically for children, but I think I put into it the kind things I liked reading about when I was young."
Michael Bond sent the book to his agent who liked it and after sending to to several publishers it was eventually accepted by William Collins & Sons (now Harper Collins). The publishers commissioned an illustrator, Peggy Fortnum, and the very first Paddington book "A Bear Called Paddington" was published on 13 October 1958. Michael had been working for the BBC as a cameraman but once he realised he needed to spend more time on his books he retired in 1965.
Of Paddington himself Michael Bond says:
"The great advantage of having a bear as a central character is that he can combine the innocence of a child with the sophistication of an adult. Paddington is not the sort of bear that would ever go to the moon - he has his paws too firmly on the ground for that. He gets involved in everyday situations. He has a strong sense of right and wrong and doesn't take kindly to the red tape bureaucracy of the sillier rules and regulations with which we humans surround ourselves. As a bear he gets away with things. Paddington is humanised, but he couldn't possibly be 'human'. It just wouldn't work."
These famous books have now sold more than 35 million copies worldwide and been translated into around 40 languages!
To celebrate, Paddington Bear will be taking a tour of London in a black cab. His journey will take him from the Adlwych, Trafalgar Square, London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Natural History Museum and finishing up at Paddington Station (by Paddington’s famous statue). What a trip! Everyone is encouraged to join in the fun, spot him and take a picture so that it can be entered into a competition.
For further information do go to the official Paddington Bear web site where you will find loads more information about books and CDs that are being issued in celebration!
Now where was that jar of marmalade?