Michael Bond, creator of iconic Paddington Bear, dies

Michael Bond, creator of the beloved children's character Paddington Bear, has died aged 91 after a short illness. 

More than 35 million Paddington books have sold around the world, and have been translated into 30 languages across 70 titles, as well as featuring in film and television.

Bond published his first book A Bear Called Paddington, about a marmalade-loving, duffle coat clad bear in 1958, and went on to write more than 20 volumes regaling stories of the now classic character.

A much-loved character in British culture, 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.

The author was born in Newbury, Berkshire in 1926, and kept writing until his death. His most recent Paddington story, Paddington's Finest Hour, was published in April this year.

His daughter, Karen Jankel, told the Guardian "the whole world" was lucky to have had her father, whose legacy would "live on for ever" through his creation.

"For him, writing was his life. It was wonderful he could continue writing until the end," she said. 

"Because Paddington and his other characters were so real to him, he became alive to everybody else."

A statement from publisher HarperCollins said: "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."

Tributes flooded in from the literary and entertainment industry.

Hugh Bonneville, who plays Mr Brown in the film adaptation and its sequel, set for release later this year, said in a statement, "In Paddington, Michael created a character whose enthusiasm and optimism has given pleasure to millions across the generations."

"Michael will be greatly missed by his legions of fans and especially by his wife, Sue, his family and of course by his beloved guinea pigs. He leaves a special legacy: long live the bear from darkest Peru."

Presenter and writer Stephen Fry tweeted: "So sorry to hear that Michael Bond has departed. He was as kindly, dignified, charming & lovable as the immortal Paddington Bear he gave us."

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