Michael Bond, the creator of the beloved Paddington Bear, sadly passed away earlier this year on 27 June at the age of 91. On the first anniversary of his death, Paddington’s last outing, which Bond was working on shortly before his passing, will be published.
“He was working on it very shortly before he died,” said Bond’s daughter, Karen Jankel. “It hadn’t been illustrated, but it was there in manuscript form, and it’s lovely … He kept that magic touch right until the end. He always had to be writing, it was always his way, right through his life.”
As The Guardian reports, the book will feature illustrations from longtime Paddington Bear illustrator R.W. Alley. This final outing for Paddington will see him journey to St Paul’s Cathedral where he is mistaken for a choirboy.
Jankel revealed that Bond was inspired to take Paddington to St. Paul’s Cathedral after a ceremony was held there to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday. He was present at the event, which also saw Sir David Attenborough read Bond’s Reflections on the Passing Years.
“That’s how the idea got started,” said Jankel. “I’d never give away too much, but Paddington goes on an outing with his friend Mr Gruber, as he is wont to do.” The book will be published by HarperCollins and the executive publisher, Ann-Janine Murtagh, described the upcoming book as: “Michael’s parting gift to all his fans … brimming with curiosity, charm and affectionate exuberance”.
Bond’s daughter was born in 1958, the same year as the first publication of Paddington Bear. Speaking of him she said: “He was like a member of the family. He still is, even though my father isn’t here.”
In recognition of Bond’s contribution to literature, a ceremony is set to be held for him at St. Paul’s Cathedral on 14 November. “Our family feel immensely proud that we will be honouring his life [in this way] and the fact that this is the setting for his final story makes it very special indeed,” said Jankel.
A new Paddington Bear film, called Paddington 2, is also set to be released later this month on 10 November. “It’s wonderful,” said Jankel of the film. “Very sadly my father never got to see it. They’ve captured the spirit of Paddington so beautifully. My father was as nervous as me before the first one. We all were. It’s like asking somebody to bring up a child for you. But when he finally saw it, he was delighted.”
Bond was inspired to create the character of Paddington after he saw a lonely toy bear in a shop on Christmas Eve, 1956. He bought the bear for his wife as a gift and, living near Paddington station, he thought that was a good name for the character. Speaking about the creation of Paddington, Bond once said: “When I wrote those few words, I had no idea quite what a change they would eventually make to my life. It was really a case of putting something down on paper to get my brain working that morning”.
The Paddington books have since become immensely popular and have been translated into over 40 languages and sold over 35 million copies. We look forward to going on one last outing with Paddington next year.
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