Michael Bond, creator of one of the most beloved children’s book characters, Paddington Bear, died Tuesday. He was 91 years-old.
“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,” HarperCollins UK said in a statement posted to Facebook on Wednesday.
Bond was serving in the military during World War II when he began writing, selling short stories and radio plays. He was a BBC cameraman when his agent suggested he adapt a radio play for children.
Paddington was a bear from “darkest Peru” whose Aunt Lucy sent him to the United Kingdom, where he was adopted by a family. They named him Paddington after the train station where he was found.
Bond spent nearly 60 years writing children’s books featuring his famous character. The first book. “A Bear Called Paddington,” was released in 1958 with his last, “Love From Paddington,” hitting shelves in 2014. The stories have sold over 35 million copies as of 2014 and have been translated into over 40 languages.
“Ever thanks, Mr. Bond, for bringing this little guy into our lives. We’ll look after him,” Harper Collins US posted on Instagram.
Along with the “Paddington” series he wrote other children’s books starring a guinea pig named Olga da Polga. He also did a series of mystery stories for adults starring Monsieur Pamplemousse and his bloodhound, Pommes Frites.
“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,” said Ann-Janine Murtagh, executive publisher at HarperCollins Children’s Books, in a statement. “He will be forever remembered for his creation of the iconic Paddington, with his duffle coat and wellington boots, which touched my own heart as a child and will live on in the hearts of future generations.
“Michael Bond was one of the great children’s writers and at HarperCollins we are immensely fortunate to have published him and to have known him,” said CEO Charlie Redmayne. “He was a wonderful man and leaves behind one of the great literary legacies of our time.”
Paddington was turned into an animated TV series in 1975, in 1989 and in 1997.