Author Michael Bond has died aged 91 following a short illness.
The writer, best known for his creation Paddington Bear, died at home yesterday, a statement from his publisher has confirmed.
“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,” said Harper Collins.
Bond’s daughter, Karen Jankel, added in a statement to the Guardian: “It’s a shock to everybody. 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 and Paddington that will live on for ever, which is really very special.
“The whole world is lucky to have had him … Paddington himself is so real to all of us, he’s still a part of our family and we’re very lucky.”
She added: “For him, writing was his life. It was wonderful he could continue writing until the end. Because … Paddington and his other characters were so real to him, he became alive to everybody else.
“You can tell just by reading his books what a lovely person he was. I never came across anybody who disliked my father. He was one of those people that people instinctively warmed to and he was as funny as a person and delightful as he was in his writing and as a father.”
Born on 13th January 1926, Thomas Michael Bond first worked as a clerk in a solicitor’s office before ending up at the BBC where he got a junior job in a transmitter facility. He volunteered for the RAF in 1943 before transferring to the army, submitting a short story to magazine London Opinion while he was stationed in Egypt.
Bond returned to the BBC in 1947 and started as a cameraman three years later, working on programmes including Blue Peter.
But it was a chance encounter with a toy bear in a London shop that inspired the creation of Paddington who has since showed up in a series of books, a BBC TV series and, most recently, a feature film which has a sequel scheduled for release this November.
Bond has written more than 150 different Paddington books, the latest coming in 2014, and has sold in excess of 35 million copies worldwide in more than 40 languages.
He is also the creator of The Herbs, which became a successful TV series, and Olga da Polga, and has created retired detective-turned-restaurant critic Monsieur Pamplemousse for adults.