Paddington Bear is a fictional bear with many human characteristics created by the British author Michael Bond. According to the stories about him, Paddington Bear was born in "Darkest Peru" and came to England as a stowaway. He was spotted by Mr. and Mrs. Brown of 32 Windsor Gardens, London at Paddington train station, hence his name. The Browns took pity on the bear and allowed him to stay with them for a few days, soon allowing him to live with them forever. Paddington is very friendly, extremely polite and has a strong sense of right and wrong. However, his tendency to misunderstand the situation and his natural curiosity and apparent clumsiness constantly lead him into trouble, although some how his adventures nearly always end happily for him.
Paddington is the title character and protagonist of fourteen humorous novels for children which Bond wrote; A Bear Called Paddington (1958), More About Paddington (1959), Paddington Helps Out (1960), Paddington Abroad (1961), Paddington at Large (1962), Paddington Marches On (1964), Paddington at Work (1966), Paddington Goes to Town (1968), Paddington Takes the Air (1970), Paddington on Top (1974), Paddington Takes the Test (1979), Paddington Here and Now (2008), Paddington Races Ahead (2013), Love from Paddington (2014) and Paddington's Finest Hour (2017) . For several years from 1965 onwards, Michael Bond also wrote a short story about Paddington each year for publication in the Blue Peter Annual the book which came out each Christmas to accompany the BBC children's TV program Blue Peter. The stories were collected together in two anthologies. The first one, called Paddington's Blue Peter Story Book, was published in 1973. It has sometimes been republished under the title Paddington Takes to TV. The second anthology, called Paddington on Screen, was first published in 1980. Bond also wrote ten Paddington picture books for younger children, some of which were adapted from chapters of his novels. Books about Paddington have been translated into thirty languages and have sold more than thirty million copies worldwide.
In addition to the books about him, Paddington has also appeared in three different animated TV series. They are the 1975 British series Paddington, the scripts for all thirty-three episodes of which were written by Michael Bond himself, adapted (sometimes very loosely) from chapters of his novels, the 1989 American-British series Paddington Bear and the 1997 French-Canadian series The Adventures of Paddington Bear. Paddington, the first feature-length film about the character, which combines live-action and CGI animation, was released on November 28, 2014 in the United Kingdom and on January 16, 2015 in North America. A sequel, Paddington 2, was released on November 10, 2017 in the United Kingdom and on January 10, 2018 in the United States. Paddington Bear has also featured in a great deal of branding and merchandise over the years.
Michael Bond was inspired to write what would become the first chapter of the 1958 book A Bear Called Paddington by a toy bear which he had bought on London's Portobello Road as a Christmas present for his wife. He named the bear Paddington after the nearby London train station which he could see from his apartment. Bond says of the toy bear, "In no time at all, he became part of the family. In fact, for a long time he was the family and was treated as such; joining us at meal times, sharing our holidays, occasionally interrupting our conversations". Bond has said that he had not yet read the stories about Winnie-the-Pooh when he began to write about Paddington. He was, however aware that Pooh loved honey. In order to make his bear different, Bond decided that Paddington's favorite food would be marmalade.
Fictional character biography
The bear who would later come to be known as Paddington was born in "Darkest Peru". He was raised by his Aunt Lucy, his only known living relative apart from his Uncle Pastuzo. Aunt Lucy always encouraged her nephew to emigrate when he was old enough and taught him English for that reason. After his Aunt Lucy went to live in a home for retired bears in Lima, the young bear stowed away on a ship bound for England. He spent the entire journey in a lifeboat, living off one jar of marmalade. The only other possessions he brought with him were one suitcase, containing a photograph of his Aunt Lucy and a few Peruvian coins, and an old hat which he always wore that had once belonged to his uncle.
While at London's Paddington station to meet the train bringing their daughter Judy home from school, Mr. and Mrs. Brown noticed the young bear. Having found out that he did not know anybody in London and had nowhere to stay, the Browns invited Paddington to stay with them for a few days. When the bear told her that nobody could understand his Peruvian name, Mrs. Brown renamed him Paddington after the train station where they found him.
The Browns soon decided to allow Paddington to stay with them forever. He shares their home at 32 Windsor Gardens with their children Jonathan and Judy and their housekeeper Mrs. Bird. Although she has a reputation for being fierce and sometimes gets annoyed with Paddington's attempts to help her that go wrong, Mrs. Bird is very fond of Paddington and is protective towards him.
Soon after arriving in England, Paddington was given his famous blue duffel coat. He later acquired a pair of Wellington boots too. Paddington often carries all of his possessions with him in his suitcase. He also uses his suitcase to carry the marmalade sandwiches which are his favorite food.
While shopping on the Portobello Road, Paddington met the antiques dealer Mr. Gruber, a man originally from Hungary who had spent time in South America when he was younger. He soon became Paddington's good friend and they spend many happy hours together chatting and drinking hot chocolate. Paddington also has an enemy in the form of the Browns' bad tempered neighbor Mr. Curry, one of the few people who is not able to laugh off the mishaps which the bear causes.
Paddington is naturally friendly and very polite. One of the reasons why he always wears a hat is so that he can raise it in greeting if he sees somebody he knows. However, if he feels that people are being rude or condescending towards him, Paddington fixes them with a stare which makes them feel extremely uncomfortable. Paddington has good intentions in almost everything he does and often tries to put right something he perceives as wrong. However, he is rather naive and often misunderstands the situation. As a small bear, he also has some physical difficulty in living in the human world, which makes him appear clumsy. As a result, Paddington frequently causes trouble for himself and those around him. However, Paddington rarely ends up in any real difficulty. The accidents which Paddington causes often have unintended positive consequences or can at least be laughed off by those affected by them.
Notes and references
- Postscript to the 2001 edition of A Bear Called Paddington ISBN 9780007174164.
- "Michael Bond: how Paddington Bear came to be", Radio Times, November 28, 2014.
- Paddington's Uncle Pastuzo is not named in the novels until the 2008 book Paddington Here and Now.
- Paddington is given a pair of Wellington boots as a Christmas present in the 1964 novel Paddington Marches On. However, the boots only became strongly associated with the character after stuffed toys which depicted him wearing Wellington boots were created in 1972. Designer Shirley Clarkson added the boots because the stuffed toy could not be made to stand up without them.