“Although Paddington now lives in London, England, he originally came from Peru where he was brought up by his Aunt Lucy after he was orphaned following an earthquake when he was just a few weeks old.
When Aunt Lucy went to live in the Home for Retired Bears in Lima, she decided to send him to England to live. After teaching him to speak perfect English, Aunt Lucy arranged for him to stow away in a ship’s lifeboat.
Eventually, Paddington arrived on Paddington Station in London where he was found by Mr. and Mrs. Brown. He was sitting on a small suitcase near the lost property office wearing nothing but an old bush hat and a label round his neck with the words “Please Look After This Bear. Thank You.”
Unable to resist such a simple request, Mr. and Mrs. Brown took Paddington home to live with them at 32 Windsor Gardens in London, along with their two children, Jonathan and Judy and their housekeeper, Mrs. Bird.
The Browns decided to name the new member of their family Paddington, after the place where he was found, although we later learn that in Peru Paddington was called Pastuso, after his uncle.
When he was found, Paddington wasn’t too sure how old he was so the Browns decided to start again at one. They also decided that he should have two birthdays a year (just like the Queen!) and so he celebrates these on 25th June and 25th December.
Paddington has a close friend, Mr. Gruber who owns an antiques shop in the nearby Portobello Road and most days Paddington and Mr. Gruber share their elevenses of buns and cocoa. If Paddington ever has a problem he will almost always turn to Mr. Gruber for help and advice.
The Browns have a very unpleasant next-door-neighbour, Mr. Curry. He is very mean and is always trying to take advantage of Paddington’s good nature.
More about Paddington
Paddington wears an old bush hat which was handed down to him by his uncle in Peru and he is hardly ever seen without it
When Paddington first went to live with the Browns they bought him a blue duffle coat which he wears most of the time. It has a hood and is fastened with wooden toggles.
Paddington sometimes completes his outfit with a pair of Wellington boots.
Paddington is rarely parted from his battered, brown, leather suitcase. It has his initials P.B. written on the side and a secret compartment in which he keeps all his important papers.
Paddington is famous for his love of marmalade and he is particularly fond of it in marmalade sandwiches. He always carries a jar of it in his suitcase and he usually has a marmalade sandwich tucked under his hat ‘in case of emergencies’.
When Paddington goes shopping in the market he often takes along his shopping basket on wheels.
One of Paddington’s most important possessions is his scrapbook where he likes to write about all his adventures. It is also full of mementoes and the regular postcards which he receives from his Aunt Lucy in Peru.
Paddington is a very polite bear. He is very well-meaning and full of good intentions but his trusting nature can often get him into trouble. If people upset Paddington then they may get treated to one of his famous hard stares!
Fortunately for Paddington, whatever scrapes he gets into, things always turn out alright for him in the end.
Paddington is, by nature, a very helpful bear and as such he works to support a number of children’s charities around the world.
On an international level Paddington has a partnership with UNICEF as their champion for all children.
He is also involved with a number of different charities on a regional basis. These include, in the UK Action Medical Research, to help raise awareness and vital funds for research into a very wide range of medical conditions with a particular emphasis on those affecting babies and children, in the US Paddington is has partnered with the ‘Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness’ to raise awareness and funds for child homelessness and in Sweden Paddington works with SOS Children’s Villages, who work to protect orphaned and abandoned children.
Author Michael Bond
“When I was small I never went to bed without a story. But I doubt my mother ever pictured me writing for a living. In fact, when I eventually gave up working for the BBC in order to write full time, I think both my parents were worried that I had given up a nice, safe job for what sounded to them like a very precarious existence.”
Michael Bond was born in Newbury, Berkshire, England on 13th January 1926. He was educated at Presentation College, Reading. During World War II Michael Bond served in both the Royal Air Force and the Middlesex Regiment of the British Army.
He began writing in 1945 and sold his first short story to a magazine called London Opinion. This experience helped him decide that he wanted to be a writer.
It was while Michael Bond was working as a television cameraman for the BBC that he first came up with the idea for Paddington 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.”
Michael Bond sent the book to his agent, Harvey Unna, 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.
Since the first publication the Paddington books have sold more than thirty-five million copies worldwide and have been translated into over forty different languages, including Latin.
With his extraordinary flair for developing characters, Michael Bond has written much more besides Paddington including children’s television series The Herbs, books about a guinea pig called Olga da Polga and a series of adult novels about a French detective turned food guide inspector, Monsieur Pamplemousse. In total Michael Bond has written almost 150 books, including his autobiography ‘Bears and Forebears’.
In 1997 Michael Bond was awarded an OBE for services to children’s literature and this was followed by a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2015.
For the last 37 years of his life Michael Bond lived in London, not far from Paddington Station where it all began. He continued to write until shortly before he died on 27th June 2017, aged 91.