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Newbury-born author of Paddington Bear stories dies, aged 91

Michael Bond died yesterday following a short illness

John Herring

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John Herring

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Newbury-born author of Paddington Bear stories dies, aged 91

The Newbury-born author of the world famous Paddington Bear books, Michael Bond, has died.

Mr Bond died at his home on Tuesday, aged 91, following a short illness, his publisher Harper Collins said in a statement. 

His first book about the Marmalade loving bear from deepest darkest Peru, A Bear Called Paddington, was published in 1958. 

It was the first of 26 Paddington books, which later led to an animated television series and a film in 2014.

Mr Bond's books have sold more than 35 million copies worldwide and been translated into more than 40 languages, including Latin.

He was awarded a CBE for services to children's literature in 1997.

Mr Bond was born at 2 Edinburgh Terrace, West Mills, Newbury in January 1926.

The family then moved to Reading when he was six weeks old when his father, former Newbury Grammar School pupil Norrie, was promoted in the Post Office.

His mother, Mary (nee Offer) worked at Camp Hopson's before her marriage. 

Speaking to the Newbury Weekly News in 2000 Mr Bond said that his fondest memory of Newbury was Griffins the butchers on Bridge Street.

"I can still taste their pork sausages; they were very special," he said. 

Mr Bond attended Presentation College in Reading and joined the BBC as an engineer's assistant after a short stint in a solicitor's office.

In 1943 he survived an air raid in Reading, which saw 41 people die after the building he was working in collapsed under him.

Shortly afterwards he joined the Royal Air Force at the age of 17 and later the Middlesex Regiment of the Army. 

It was while Mr Bond was stationed in Cairo in 1945 that he started writing and sold his first story to London Opinion.

The idea for Paddington came when Mr Bond bought a small toy bear on Christmas Eve in 1956. 

Recalling in his own words on the official Paddington Bear website he said: "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."

His other literary works include the Olga da Polga series and the Monsieur Pamplemousse series.

He also wrote the BBC stop animation series The Herbs.  

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Article comments

  • paulGT11

    28/06/2017 - 14:02

    ' "Oh Dear" said Paddington to the world in general...' A brilliant author who will be greatly missed.

    Reply

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