Paddington heads to Newbury
By Linda Serck
The Peruvian bear who landed at Paddington Station actually can trace his origins to Newbury, the birthplace of his creator Michael Bond. Now, the little bear is donning his duffle coat and heading to the town's racecourse for a special party.
Paddington Bear hails from darkest Peru, never goes anywhere without his duffle coat and hat, is a bit accident prone and is very fond of marmalade.
The little bear, one of the most popular characters in children's literature, is the creation of Michael Bond, who was born in Newbury on January 13 1926.
Now, the bear is celebrating his 50th anniversary by visiting Newbury Racecourse to hold a special teddy bear's picnic at the annual Family Fun Day on Sunday 3 August.
Children are invited to bring along their favourite teddy bear and share some of Paddington's favourite marmalade sandwiches.
But what are the origins of this world famous bear?
Michael Bond was educated at Presentation College in Reading. During his time as a BBC cameraman he landed on the idea of Paddington Bear after he bought his wife a bear toy.
Michael Bond, Paddington, and marmalade sandwiches
"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."
His first book, A Bear Called Paddington, was published in October 1958 and Bond went on to write a whole series.
By 1967 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.
"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.
In 1997 Michael Bond was awarded to OBE for services to children's literature. He is married with two adult children and lives in London, not far from Paddington Station.
last updated: 25/07/2008 at 14:17