Author Michael Bond, best known for creating the iconic Paddington Bear character, passed away yesterday at the age of 91. The author's publisher HarperCollins confirmed the author's death on the publishing company's Facebook page. Here's the publishing company's statement below, which reveals that he passed from an undisclosed illness.
"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. Published by HarperCollins for almost 60 years, Michael was a giant of children's literature, his first book A Bear Called Paddington was published in 1958. In his long and illustrious career he published over 200 books for children. As well as Paddington, he also created characters including Olga da Polga and A Mouse Called Thursday along with a series of adult novels, featuring the detective Monsieur Pamplemousse. Over 35 million Paddington books have been sold worldwide and enjoyed by generations of children. The books went on to inspire toys, TV programmes and most recently the movie Paddington produced by David Heyman for StudioCanal, and the second film eagerly awaited later this year. Michael's latest Paddington novel, Paddington's Finest Hour, was published in April 2017 by HarperCollins."
Michael Bond was born Thomas Michael Bond on January 13, 1926 in Newbury, U.K., and raised in Reading, Berkshire, where he was educated at Presentation College, which the author was not a fan of. He left his education at age 14, where he worked at a solicitors office and later at the BBC as an engineer's assistant. He survived an air raid in 1943 where the building he was working in collapsed, killing 41 people, which lead him to join the Royal Air Force at just 17 years of age, although he was discharged due to acute air sickness and later served in the British Army's Middlesex Unit, when he started writing in 1945, after being stationed in Cairo. Here's what Ann-Janine Murtagh, Executive Publisher HarperCollins Children's Books, had to say in her statement about the late writer on HarperCollins Facebook.
"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. 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. My thoughts and love are with his wife, Sue and his children Karen and Anthony."
The beloved author was given seven guineas, a coin of approximately one quarter ounce of gold that was minted in Great Britain between 1663 and 1814, for his first short story he published in the magazine London Opinion. After serving in the army, he wrote and produced several plays and published short stories while working as a BBC television cameraman, before publishing his first Paddington novel, A Bear Called Paddington. He continued to churn out new books, with 1959's More About Paddington, 1960's Paddington Helps Out, 1962's Paddington At Large, and 1964's Paddington Marches On. His books became so successful that he was able to leave his job as a BBC cameraman in 1965 to focus on writing full-time. Here's what Charlie Redmayne, HarperCollins CEO, had to say in a statement.
"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. He was a wonderful man and leaves behind one of the great literary legacies of our time."
Michael Bond would write 21 more Paddington novels, along with nine more books in his Olga da Polga series, 21 novels in his Monsieur Pamplemousse series along with 19 other books not tied to any literary series. The author is survived by his wife Sue and his children Karen and Anthony.