Michael Bond is the author who created the endearing Paddington Bear. It was when he was working as a television cameraman for the BBC that he first came up with the idea and he recalls in his own words how this came about:
“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.”
He sent the book to his agent who liked it and after sending it 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 book A Bear Called Paddington was published on 13th October 1958.
After the first Paddington book was accepted, Michael Bond went on to write a whole series and by 1965 his books were so successful that that he was able to give up his job with the BBC in order to become a full-time writer.
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.”
The Paddington books have sold more than thirty-five million copies worldwide and have been translated into over forty languages, including Latin.
One of the nicest things about writing for children, according to Michael Bond, “is their total acceptance of the fantastic. Give a child a stick and a patch of wet sand and it will draw the outline of a boat and accept it as such.”
“I did learn though, that to make fantasy work you have to believe in it yourself. If an author doesn’t believe in his inventions and his characters nobody else will. Paddington to me is, and always has been, very much alive.”