Michael Bond was born in Newbury, 13th January 1926. He was raised in Reading, Berkshire, where his visits to Reading Station to watch the Cornish Riviera Express go steaming through started a love of trains.
He was educated at Presentation College, Reading. During World War II Michael Bond served in both the Royal Air Force and the Middlesex Regiment of the British Army.
He began writing in 1945 and sold his first short story to a magazine called London Opinion. This experience helped him decide that he wanted to be a writer.
Michael Bond never thought of writing for children but, after producing a number of short stories and radio plays, his agent suggested that he adapt a television play for children.
His first book, A Bear Called Paddington, was published in 1958 by William Collins & Sons (now HarperCollins Publishers). At the time, Michael Bond was working as a television cameraman for the BBC.
Michael Bond recalls in his own words how Paddington first came into being:
“I bought a small toy bear on Christmas Eve 1956. I saw it left on a shelf in a London store and felt sorry for it. I took it home as a present for my wife Brenda and named it Paddington as we were living near Paddington Station at the time.
I wrote some stories about the bear, more for fun than with the idea of having them published. After ten days I found that I had a book on my hands. It wasn’t written specifically for children, but I think I put into it the kind things I liked reading about when I was young.”
Michael Bond sent the book to his agent, Harvey Unna, who liked it and after sending to several publishers it was eventually accepted by William Collins & Sons (now Harper Collins). The publishers commissioned an illustrator, Peggy Fortnum and the very first Paddington book “A Bear Called Paddington” was published on 13th October 1958.
After the first Paddington book was accepted, Michael Bond went on to write a whole series and by 1965 his books were so successful that that he was able to give up his job with the BBC in order to become a full-time writer.
“The great advantage of having a bear as a central character is that he can combine the innocence of a child with the sophistication of an adult.”
Paddington is not the sort of bear that would ever go to the moon – he has his paws too firmly on the ground for that. He gets involved in everyday situations.
He has a strong sense of right and wrong and doesn’t take kindly to the red tape bureaucracy of the sillier rules and regulations with which we humans surround ourselves.
As a bear he gets away with things. Paddington is humanised, but he couldn’t possibly be ‘human’. It just wouldn’t work.”
Bond has also written another series of children’s books, the adventures of a guinea pig named Olga da Polga, as well as the animated BBC TV series The Herbs. Bond also writes culinary mystery stories for adults featuring Monsieur Pamplemousse and his faithful bloodhound, Pommes Frites.
In 1997 Michael Bond was awarded an OBE for services to children’s literature.
On 6 July 2007 the University of Reading awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Letters.
He is married with two adult children and lives in London, not far from Paddington Station.
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