Paddington Bear creator Michael Bond was awarded a CBE for a career writing much-loved stories for children.
The recent movie about his bear who hails from “darkest Peru”, loves marmalade sandwiches and is adopted by the Brown family, introduced the impeccably polite character to a new generation of children.
Mr Bond’s first book, A Bear Called Paddington, was published in 1958 and the Paddington books have sold more than 35 million copies worldwide and been translated into over 30 languages.
Mr Bond, who has been awarded a CBE for services to children’s literature to add to the OBE he received in July 1997, spoke about the name of his famous bear.
He said: “I was brought up in Reading so Paddington station was our station at the end of the line, but I always wanted to use the name Paddington because it sounds important but it also sounds like a warm West Country name.
“I had a letter from a small boy quite a long time ago, he said he was so used to it as a name for a bear, he thought it was a funny name for a station.”
Mr Bond was born in Newbury, Berkshire, and educated at Presentation College, Reading. He served in both the Royal Air Force and the Middlesex Regiment of the British Army during the Second World War. He began writing in 1945 when he was in the Army.
The dream of becoming a writer was born after he was paid seven guineas when his first short story was sold to a magazine called London Opinion.
With a mass of short stories and radio plays under his belt, his agent suggested that he could consider writing for children.
Mr Bond turned a television play into a children’s play and eventually the married father-of-two from Maida Vale, London, crafted a career as a successful children’s writer.
Speaking about the enduring appeal of Paddington he said: “I never take it for granted, it’s really warming, it’s genuine and I get letters saying ‘I wrote to you 25 years ago and you wrote back and sent me a picture and I still have it by my bed’.
“I think they don’t go on to other things people, if they’re brought up on Paddington, he stays with them.”