Michael Bond, author of popular children’s literature character Paddington Bear, has died at 91. Publisher HarperCollins announced that the London-based Bond, who penned over 20 books featuring the world-traveling bear, died Tuesday at home following a “short illness,” the Associated Press reports.
Bond introduced the marmalade-loving, bespectacled bear in his first book, 1958’s A Bear Called Paddington. The author based his character on a teddy bear he spotted in a store near the railway station on Christmas Eve and purchased as a gift for his wife.
Bond continued to publish books in the series, which has sold over 35 million copies worldwide, throughout his life. His most recent, Paddington’s Finest Hour, came out in April. The beloved character, who journeyed from “darkest Peru” to London’s Paddington station, also starred in an animated film adaptation, 2014’s Paddington, and a sequel is planned for this year.
Bond’s daughter, Karen Jankel, told The Guardian that her father’s legacy will “live on forever” through his iconic writing.
“It’s a shock to everybody,” she said. “For me, he was the most wonderful father you can imagine, so obviously our loss is personal. But it’s wonderful that he’s left the legacy of his books … Paddington himself is so real to all of us – he’s still a part of our family, and we’re very lucky.”
“So sorry to hear that Michael Bond has departed,” comedian Stephen Fry tweeted. “He was as kindly, dignified, charming and lovable as the immortal Paddington Bear he gave us.”
Bond was born in Newbury, Berkshire, England in 1926. He launched his writing career while serving in the Army in 1945, after successfully selling a short story. He briefly worked as a BBC television cameraman, while continuing to sell short stories and plays. After the success of the first Paddington book, he focused on writing full-time.
In addition to his numerous Paddington books, his bibliography includes another children’s series, Olga da Polga, based on his family guinea pig, and a mystery franchise, Monsieur Pamplemousse, among other titles.
Bond is survived by his wife, Sue; children Karen and Anthony; and four grandchildren.