2017-06-28 15:47:10 UTC
Paddington Bear author Michael Bond dies aged 91
Creator of marmalade-loving bear from Peru, whose last story was published in April, has died after a short illness
Jamie Grierson, Mark Sweney and Danuta Kean
Wednesday 28 June 2017 09.35 EDT First published on Wednesday 28 June 2017 07.57 EDT
Michael Bond, the creator of the beloved children’s character Paddington Bear, has died aged 91.
Bond, who published his first book, A Bear Called Paddington, about the marmalade-loving bear from deepest, darkest Peru, in 1958, died at home after a short illness.
The author, born in Newbury, Berkshire, in 1926, kept writing until his death. His most recent Paddington story, Paddington’s Finest Hour, was published in April.
His daughter, Karen Jankel, told the Guardian “the whole world” was lucky to have had her father, whose legacy would “live on for ever” through his creation.
A statement from publisher HarperCollins said: “It is with great sadness that we announce that Michael Bond, CBE, the creator of one of Britain’s best-loved children’s characters, Paddington, died at home yesterday aged 91 following a short illness.”
Jankel said: “It’s a shock to everybody. For me, he was the most wonderful father you can imagine, so obviously our loss is personal. But it’s wonderful that he’s left the legacy of his books and Paddington that will live on for ever, which is really very special.
“The whole world is lucky to have had him … Paddington himself is so real to all of us. He’s still a part of our family and we’re very lucky.”
Jankel said it was incredible that her father was still writing up until his death.
“For him, writing was his life. It was wonderful he could continue writing until the end,” she said. “Because … Paddington and his other characters were so real to him, he became alive to everybody else.
“You can tell just by reading his books what a lovely person he was. I never came across anybody who disliked my father. He was one of those people that people instinctively warmed to and he was as funny as a person and delightful as he was in his writing and as a father.”
Tributes poured in from figures in the literary and entertainment industry.
Hugh Bonneville, who plays Mr Brown in the film adaptation and its sequel, set for release later this year, said in a statement: “It seems particularly poignant that we should learn of dear Michael Bond’s death on the last day of shooting our second film about his unique, loveable creation.
“In Paddington, Michael created a character whose enthusiasm and optimism has given pleasure to millions across the generations.
“Michael will be greatly missed by his legions of fans and especially by his wife, Sue, his family and of course by his beloved guinea pigs. He leaves a special legacy: long live the bear from darkest Peru.”
Presenter and writer Stephen Fry tweeted: “So sorry to hear that Michael Bond has departed. He was as kindly, dignified, charming & lovable as the immortal Paddington Bear he gave us.”
Children’s author and comedian David Walliams wrote: “I had the great pleasure of spending time with #MichaelBond A dazzling wit & perfect gentleman.
“On meeting him I realised he was #Paddington.”
Francesca Simon, author of the Horrid Henry series, said: “Michael Bond created that infinitely rare thing: an iconic, utterly original, instantly recognisable and memorable character. He was one of the greats.”
The novelist Matt Haig, who worked on the Paddington film, said: “Michael Bond created an icon of children’s fiction. The Peruvian immigrant bear is one of the quirkiest but somehow most emotionally real children’s characters, both fantastical and domestic. We should all have a marmalade sandwich in honour of his creator.”
As well as Paddington, Bond created characters including Olga da Polga and A Mouse Called Thursday along with a series of novels for adults, featuring the detective Monsieur Pamplemousse.
More than 35m Paddington books have been sold worldwide, spawning toys, TV programmes and most recently the films.
Ann-Janine Murtagh, HarperCollins’s executive publisher of children’s books, said: “I feel privileged to have been Michael Bond’s publisher – he was a true gentleman, a bon viveur, the most entertaining company and the most enchanting of writers.
“He will be for ever remembered for his creation of the iconic Paddington, with his duffel coat and wellington boots, which touched my own heart as a child and will live on in the hearts of future generations. My thoughts and love are with his wife, Sue, and his children, Karen and Anthony.”