Paddington Bear creator Michael Bond died at home on Tuesday (27th June) aged 91 following a short illness, his publisher has said.
Described as “a giant of children’s literature” by HarperCollins, which published him for over 60 years, Bond's first book, A Bear Called Paddington, was released in 1958. Since then none of his titles have been out of print. He has sold 1.33 million books since 1998 totalling £7.9m according to Nielsen BookScan.
Charlie Redmayne, HarperCollins c.e.o, paid tribute to "one of the great children’s writers".
"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," Redmayne said. "He was a wonderful man and leaves behind one of the great literary legacies of our time.”
Bond created more than 200 books for children and as well as Paddington, the Marmalade-loving bear from Peru. The author also created characters including Olga da Polga and A Mouse Called Thursday along with a series of adult novels, featuring the detective Monsieur Pamplemousse.
More than 35 million Paddington books have been sold worldwide according to HarperCollins and in 1997 he was awarded an OBE.
The books went on to inspire toys, TV programmes and most recently the movie, "Paddington" produced by David Heyman for Studiocanal, with the second film is due for release this autumn. His latest book, Paddington’s Finest Hour, was published in April 2017 by HarperCollins and Bond wrote a Paddington story for BBC Radio 4's Today programme in December 2014, which took the form of a letter from the bear to his Aunt Lucy. HarperCollins Children’s Books (HCCB) announced in April that it had struck a six-year deal with French firm Vivendi for world publishing rights (including audiobook and e-book) to the Paddington brand.
Ann-Janine Murtagh, executive publisher at HarperCollins Children’s Books, described Bond as “the most enchanting of writers”.
She said: “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.”
She added: “My thoughts and love are with his wife, Sue and his children Karen and Anthony.”
Diana Gerald, BookTrust c.e.o., told The Bookseller :“We are deeply saddened to hear of Michael Bond’s passing. Michael was a truly brilliant author bringing humour and delight to many families and children across the globe. His contribution to children’s literature is invaluable and timeless and the popularity and relevance of his work has never waned.
"We thank him for creating the marvellous and loveably eccentric Paddington Bear, who’s sticky scrapes many a child will have related to over the years."
She added: "We know that Paddington’s adventures live on and continue to inspire the imaginations of children in the future.”
Many paid tribute to the author on social media. Children's writer Robin Stevens tweeted: "Michael Bond's influence on me as a child was IMMENSE. I still refuse to re-name any animal I own because of Olga da Polga. This is so sad."
Swapna Haddow, author of the Dave Pigeon series tweeted: "Thank you for all the fun, Michael Bond."
Retailer Waterstones tweeted to its 165,000 followers: "'Please look after this bear.' So sad to hear of the passing of Michael Bond, creator of Paddington. Marmalade on toast tonight, we think."
Meanwhile author and actor 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."
It was revealed in 2014 that the writer had taken legal advice on how to stop other authors writing about Paddington Bear after his death.