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 started to write in 1945 whilst stationed in Cairo and sold his first short story to the magazine London Opinion. He was paid seven guineas, and thought he “wouldn’t mind being a writer” His first book, A Bear Called Paddington, was published in 1958 by William Collins & Sons, who commissioned an illustrator, Peggy Fortnum.
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.”
Bond went on to write a whole Paddington bear series, and in 1965 Paddington was such a success that he gave up his job at the BBC to write full time.
“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. 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 he received an OBE for services to children’s literature.