1. Have you ever seen a lone toy, seemingly abandoned on a store shelf, and felt oddly sorry for it? That’s exactly how Paddington came about. Author Michael Bond was looking for a gift for his wife one Christmas Eve when he came across a forlorn looking teddy bear, all alone on a shelf. He felt sorry for the bear and decided to buy it, but the idea of the abandoned bear stuck with Bond. He began writing stories about it, mostly for his own amusement before he realised he might have something children would be interested in.
2. On the 29th January 1958 a Paddington Bear reader report by Barbara Ker Wilson of William Collins & Sons gave the verdict: ACCEPT. She commented, ‘A story which creates, in Paddington, a very endearing central character. I opened the ms. [manuscript] with initial suspicion – only to find myself completely won over from the first page onwards…If Paddington proved a great success, he could be made into a leading character and have more books written about his adventures. The author is a young television cameraman, and this is his first book. I strongly recommend acceptance of this story.’
3. Paddington shares his Peruvian name, Pastuso, with his uncle but when he meets the Browns he explains ‘I haven’t really got a name. Only a Peruvian one which no one can understand.’ They decide to call him Paddington, after the station where they meet. The bear Michael Bond took home from the department store on Christmas Eve received the same name because Bond and his wife lived near the eponymous station at the time.
4. The Paddington books have been translated into over 30 languages and his antics are loved world-wide. Of his global popularity, Michael Bond has said, ‘I am constantly surprised by all the translations because I thought that Paddington was essentially an English character. Obviously Paddington-type situations happen all over the world.’
5. There’s a life-size bronze statue of Paddington at Paddington Station. He can be found sitting on platform one under the clock, near to where the Brown family first found him.
6. Everyone knows that Paddington adores marmalade, to the extent that he keeps an emergency supply under his hat at all times. Bears are well known for their love of honey but Michael Bond preferred marmalade and decided that Paddington should follow suit!
7. Paddington’s famous wellies weren’t that famous until the plush version of him came out in 1972. The owner of a small business called Gabrielle Designs decided to make a Paddington stuffed animal for her children (one of whom happened to be none other than Jeremy Clarkson) because none were on the market yet. Although the bear had received a pair of Wellington boots for Christmas in 1964’s Paddington Marches On, he wasn’t necessarily known for them. The wellies were placed on the stuffed bear’s feet just to help him stand upright, and he became known for his colourful boots when the toy became a commercial success.
8. Speaking of Paddington’s clothes, here’s where the rest of the famous outfit came from: The old hat was handed down to him from his uncle. His Aunt Lucy is the one who placed the “Please Look After This Bear. Thank you” tag around his neck. The blue duffle coat was purchased for him by the Browns soon after he went to live with them.
9. Paddington has two birthdays – just like the Queen. He celebrates them on 25th June and 25th December.
10. A Paddington Bear soft toy was chosen by British tunnellers as the first item to pass through to their French counterparts when the two sides of the Channel Tunnel were linked in 1994.
HarperCollins Childrens Books is the home of Paddington, having published all of Paddington’s adventures since 1958.