Who doesn’t love Paddington Bear?
Assuming the answer is nobody, here’s a free London treat for everyone this December. 50 bears have converged on London and the display is perfect for keeping the kids happy when on a London Christmas shopping spree. And it’s just as popular with the big kids too!
Paddington is the down-to-earth, wise and cute brainchild of Michael Bond. The then BBC tv cameraman told how the character 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.”
He soon found a willing publisher, William Collins & Sons (now Harper Collins), who commissioned an illustrator, Peggy Fortnum, and the very first book “A Bear Called Paddington” was published on 13th October 1958.
This first appearance of the Peruvian adventurer was such a success that Bond went on to write a whole series. The books have been translated into over forty languages and have sold more than thirty-five million copies so far. In 1997, Bond was awarded an OBE for services to children’s literature. He is still writing and lives in London, not far from Paddington Station where it all began. This year, he will have the pleasure of seeing his famous character on the big screen – Paddington the Movie opened in UK cinemas on Nov 28.
In conjunction with this, and in the spirit of various public art “parades” that have gone before, visitlondon.com, the NSPCC and STUDIOCANAL are bringing a host of Paddingtons to the London streets. Many have been designed by artists and celebrities.
Fifty Bears, One City runs until 30 December. Go to visitlondon.com for maps and details of the 50 statues.