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Michael Bond, Creator Of Paddington Bear Books, Dies At 91


The story goes that Michael Bond saw a teddy bear around Christmas in a British department store. It was 1956, and he bought it for his wife. They would name him Paddington. A couple of years later, Bond turned him into a children's book character, a scruffy little guy who's prone to accidents but who means well. Usually he's got on a rumpled hat and duffel coat, and he loves marmalade. He's always very polite. Well, Michael Bond died yesterday at the age of 91. And NPR's Andrew Limbong has this remembrance.

ANDREW LIMBONG, BYLINE: Paddington Bear arrived in England illegally in need of a home.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I used to live with my Aunt Lucy in Peru, but she had to go into a home for retired bears.

LIMBONG: This is the audiobook of Thomas Michael Bond's first installment, "A Bear Named Paddington" (ph). The bear shows up in a train station in London with not really much of a plan. He was a stowaway. Luckily, he runs into Mr. and Mrs. Brown, who spots a label around the bear's neck.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It said simply, please look after this bear. Thank you.

LIMBONG: Michael Bond was born in 1926 in England. He grew up in a town called Reading. He told the Reading Museum that Paddington Bear was partially based on an image he remembered from World War II - kids fleeing London, which was being bombed, showing up at the Reading train station.


MICHAEL BOND: They had everything contained in a little suitcase, and that, too, figured in the Paddington book when I came to write it because I see it in my mind. And Paddington, in a way, is a refugee.

LIMBONG: Michael Bond wrote other books, too - the Olga da Polga series about a storytelling guinea pig, the Monsieur Pamplemousse books, his series about a food critic/detective for adults. But Paddington was Bond's biggest mark on the world. There were translations, merchandise, TV shows, a 2014 movie.


HUGH BONNEVILLE: (As Henry Brown) Hi, big fella. What's cooking?

BEN WHISHAW: (As Paddington) Marmalade, Mr. Brown. Go on. Have a taste.

BONNEVILLE: (As Henry Brown) Delicious.

WHISHAW: (As Paddington) And just one sandwich contains all the vitamins and minerals a bear needs for the whole day.

LIMBONG: Throughout Michael Bond's writing career, Paddington Bear went on holidays, solved mysteries, visited the hospital, but he always found his way back to his adopted home with the Browns at 32 Windsor Gardens in Notting Hill. Andrew Limbong, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PADDINGTON BEAR") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Andrew Limbong is a reporter for NPR's Arts Desk, where he does pieces on anything remotely related to arts or culture, from streamers looking for mental health on Twitch to Britney Spears' fight over her conservatorship. He's also covered the near collapse of the live music industry during the coronavirus pandemic. He's the host of NPR's Book of the Day podcast and a frequent host on Life Kit.