Michael Bond, the author responsible for creating the quintessentially British Paddington Bear, passed away in his London home on Wednesday, according to a statement by his publisher Harper Collins. Starting with the publication of A Bear Called Paddington in 1958, Bond wrote more than 25 books starring the character over a nearly 60 year career. His books were beloved by millions of children all across the world, many of whom saw fit to get a tattoo of Paddington once they had grown up.
Long before people went to King’s Cross Station in search of Platform 9 ¾ thanks to Harry Potter, tourists (including your humble writer) went to London’s Paddington Station to see where the lost bear first found a name and a family. With his signature blue raincoat, floppy felt hat, and spectacles, Paddington had many adventures over the years. Of course, many of these adventures were the result of his own bumbling and mishaps, but his intentions were always pure and he was exceedingly polite, especially for a bear.
I remember discovering Paddington when I was in kindergarten. From the minute I picked up the first book I knew that I was reading about a kindred spirit. Much like Paddington, I was accident prone, wore glasses, and probably enjoyed strawberry jelly a little too much (which I assume is the American substitute for marmalade). But the similarity I shared more than any other was a feeling of being lost in a world that I was extremely curious about. No matter my intentions things always seemed to go awry, but it was from Paddington that I learned the pluck necessary to carry on and make the best of everything.
Clearly I was not the only one who felt a deep connection to the ursine refugee from Peru, as Bond’s work was printed in over 40 languages. And now Paddington’s image is on the skin of people all over the world. Bond will be missed, but Paddington will live on forever.
If you want to get a Paddington Bear tattoo of your own make sure to head over to the Instagrams of these talented artists. Remember to be polite and please don’t try to pay for a tattoo with marmalade.