My most beloved fictional character lives at 32 Windsor Gardens in London. He originally came from Darkest Peru, but after a perilous ocean journey as a stowaway, he landed in London at Paddington Station and found his new family, the Browns. He is, of course, Paddington Bear.
I fell in love with Paddington some years ago, and I’m happy to say that when I began to read the books again as an adult, I loved them just as much as (and maybe even more than) I did when I was a child. Paddington’s adventures keep me giggling, smiling, and sometimes even on the edge of my seat with worry.
Contrary to much of popular culture today, I also appreciate the politeness of Paddington’s world. He is a gentleman bear who is polite, curious, and helpful, and he always means well. The world that he engages with can sometimes be unfriendly but it is never vulgar.
Paddington has a strong sense of right and wrong. He loves a good bargain. He loves to have his morning Elevenses of buns and hot cocoa with his good friend Mr. Gruber who often counsels Paddington, takes him on trips, and lends him books. In addition to buns, Paddington absolutely loves marmalade. He keeps an emergency sandwich under his hat at all times, which sounds like an excellent idea to me!
Paddington lives with Mr. and Mrs. Brown, their children Jonathan and Judy, and their housekeeper Mrs. Bird. Another frequent character in the book is the unfriendly neighbor, Mr. Curry, who curtly calls Paddiington simply “bear” and is always trying to get Paddington in trouble. This is in sharp contrast to the educated and polite Mr. Gruber who respectfully addresses Paddington as Mr. Brown.
Author Michael Bond was born on January 13, 1926 in England and was educated at Presentation College in Reading. During World War II, he served in both the Royal Air Force and the Middlesex Regiment of the British Army. He described how Paddington came to life: “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.”
A Bear Called Paddington, the first Paddington book, was published on October 13, 1958. Since that time, the Paddington series has been translated into more than 30 languages and more than 30 million copies of the books have sold worldwide.
I hope you or a young reader in your life will open up one and come to know my favorite bear, Mr. Paddington Brown of 32 Windsor Gardens. He is a most enchanting fellow.
The Paddington books in OWL’s collection include:
A Bear Called Paddington (1958): This is our introduction to Paddington, Mr. and Mrs. Brown, Jonathan and Judy, the housekeeper Mrs. Bird, the neighbor Mr. Curry, and good friend Mr. Gruber. Who can forget the bacon tucked into his suitcase to eat later?
More About Paddington (1959): The adventures continue in the second Paddington book that includes Paddington as a detective!
Paddington Abroad (1961): The family goes to France for the summer and includes Paddington competing in the Tour de France!
Paddington On Top (1974): Paddington heads off to school and has many adventures and mishaps.
Paddington Takes to TV (1974): This book was originally published under the title Paddington’s Blue Peter Storybook. Blue Peter was a popular British children’s television show at the time of publication. This book centers around Paddington’s participation on the television show.
Paddington’s Storybook (1974): This is a collection of some of Paddington’s most beloved adventures from the books published to date.
Paddington On Stage (1977): Calling all actors and actresses! This book is a collection of plays adapted from Paddington’s stories.
Paddington Takes the Test (1979): Paddington takes a driving test! Watch out!!
~ Ann Marie
Ann Marie is the Library Director at OWL. She treasures the simple joys of life.