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HomeDramaA Bear known as Paddington: printed 13 October 1958

A Bear known as Paddington: printed 13 October 1958


by Alison Bailey, Lead Curator Printed Heritage Collections 1901-2000 and Curator of Paddington: The Story of a Bear.

A woman in a face-mask stands in front of a cut-out of Paddington bear in the British Library exhibition, Paddington: The Story of a Bear
View of Paddington: the story of a bear – exhibition on the British Library

The primary tales about Paddington – the bear well-known for his kindness, politeness and love of marmalade – had been printed by Collins (now HarperCollins Publishers) on 13 October 1958.

Maybe you already know the background to Paddington’s creation? On Christmas Eve 1956 Michael Bond noticed a toy bear sitting on their lonesome on the shelf in Selfridges division retailer in London. He purchased the bear as an additional Christmas current for his spouse they usually known as him Paddington – after the station. A number of months later, when Michael was searching for inspiration for some youngsters’s tales, he noticed the bear and wrote 8 chapters in 10 days.

Right here on the British Library in London we're celebrating Paddington and Michael Bond in our Paccar 2 exhibition Paddington: The Story of a Bear, which runs till 31 October 2021. As an example Bond’s artistic course of we're fortunate sufficient to have Michael’s ‘Pocket book’ from 1957 (loaned by the Property of Michael Bond) during which he wrote notes and concepts for his early Paddington tales.

Michael’s agent, Harvey Unna, who had inspired him to jot down youngsters’s tales, despatched the manuscript to a number of publishers. It was adopted up by Barbara Ker Wilson – then youngsters’s books editor at Collins and herself a author. In her report (lent to the exhibition by HarperCollins Publishers) she suggests Collins settle for the tales for publication and notes her appreciation of each the character of Paddington and the general fashion of the writing. The writer’s reader she despatched the manuscript to was equally enthusiastic – and we show the response (once more lent by HarperCollins Publishers) subsequent to Wilson’s report.

So, on 13 October 1958, A Bear known as Paddington, was printed. Within the exhibition we're exhibiting two copies of the primary version – one loaned by Michael’s daughter, Karen Jankel, which is signed by Michael and was given to his mother and father. That is within the first part of the exhibition – Beginnings – and is proven closed, so you possibly can see Peggy Fortnum’s distinctive pen and ink drawing of Paddington on the mud jacket.

The book 'A Bear Called Paddington' is open at the first page in an exhibition case showing a pen and ink drawing of Paddington Bear

Opening exhibiting first web page of textual content from Michael Bond, A Bear known as Paddington. With drawings by Peggy Fortnum. London: Collins, 1958.

The opposite copy is the authorized deposit copy from our personal collections within the House part of the exhibition. That is open on the very first web page of the very first story “Please take care of this bear” and reveals Paddington, once more illustrated by Peggy Fortnum, together with his hat, label and suitcase, as he appeared when the Browns first met him.

After these early tales about Paddington there have been many extra – together with the ultimate image guide story Michael wrote, Paddington at St Paul’s, illustrated by R.W. Alley and printed in 2018 – 60 years after A Bear known as Paddington. We show a replica within the exhibition, along with a number of about 20 illustrated books from the various titles in our personal collections, together with pop-ups and translations. They sit amongst examples of authentic paintings by Peggy Fortnum, R.W. Alley and David McKee, in addition to memorabilia on mortgage from Michael Bond’s household, plush toys, sound and movie clips and materials created by two native faculties. All in all, 11 illustrators are represented.

This has been a cheering mission to have labored on with the Exhibitions and Studying Groups during the last 18 months – a vivid spot amid the gloom – and I hope you too will get pleasure from studying or re-reading Paddington to have fun this anniversary.

Works cited:

  • Michael Bond, A Bear known as Paddington. With drawings by Peggy Fortnum. London: Collins, 1958. (British Library shelfmark: 12840.l.4.)
  • Michael Bond, Paddington at St. Paul’s. Illustrated by R.W. Alley. London: HarperCollins Kids’s Books, 2018.

Additional studying:

  • Michael Bond, Bears & forebears: a life thus far. London: HarperCollins, 1996. (B.L. shelfmarks: YC.1996.b.5818. and 96/28405)


With because of our journey accomplice Nice Western Railway.

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