Monday, July 2, 2012


Paddington Bear
Michael Bond recalls in his own words how Paddington first came into being:

"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."

How Paddington first came into being

Michael Bond sent the book to his agent, Harvey Unna, who liked it and after sending to 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 Paddington book "A Bear Called Paddington" was published on 13th October 1958.

What happened next

In 1965, after writing several Paddington titles Michael Bond retired from his job as a cameraman with the BBC, a job he held for many years, in order to write full time.

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. Paddington is not the sort of bear that would ever go to the moon - he has his paws too firmly on the ground for that. He gets involved in everyday situations. He has a strong sense of right and wrong and doesn't take kindly to the red tape bureaucracy of the sillier rules and regulations with which we humans surround ourselves. As a bear he gets away with things. Paddington is humanised, but he couldn't possibly be 'human'. It just wouldn't work."

The Paddington books have sold more than thirty-five million copies worldwide and have been translated into over forty languages.

Michael Bond continues:

"I am constantly surprised by all the translations because I thought that Paddington was essentially an English character. Obviously Paddington-type situations happen all over the world."
A Bear Called Paddington book cover

The Paddington Books

The very first Paddington book was "A Bear Called Paddington" which was published in the UK by William Collins (now Harper Collins) in 1958. Illustrated with pen and ink drawings by Peggy Fortnum, this title is a novel in eight chapters and is still available today. There are eleven further titles in this series, the most recent of which was published in 2008, exactly fifty years after the very first book. These are the stories which tell most of Paddington's adventures.

With the first year of publication, they are as follows:

By clicking on the titles you can read a brief synopsis of each of the stories.

In 1972 the first picture books for younger readers were published. These were illustrated by Fred Banbery and there were six titles in the series.

In the 1980's another series of picture books were introduced. These books were a smaller format and were illustrated by David McKee.

The most recent Paddington picture books to be published are those which have been beautifully illustrated by the American artist, R.W. Alley and, in addition to recent brand new titles, he has also re-illustrated many of the earlier picture books.

With the inclusion of a large number of acitivity and board books for very young children, in total there have been over 150 different Paddington books published since 1958. However,from a collector's point of view, the most valuable are the first editions of the original novels.
For much more about Paddington, go to


No comments:

Post a Comment