Thursday, 12 September 2013

1959 Interview with Michael Bond of Paddington Bear Fame

From the October, 1959 issue of Books and Bookmen.
Interview by Elizabeth Henniker Heaton.

The National Book League was rather crowded when my husband and I met Michael Bond there, and we had some difficulty in finding a table for four. Paddington, of course, had to be included in the conversation. After all, it was mainly about him. Eventually we were settled, and Paddington had been given a supply of straws for his ginger pop (he had tried drinking it from a glass but the bubbles tickled his whiskers). Then panic because someone had hung a mackintosh over Paddington's hat, and the entire contents of the pegs had to be rearranged.
At last he was happy, and we were able to ask Michael Bond how and where this irrepresible bear (from Darkest Peru) had originated. Apparently he had given his wife a teddy bear once, and this bear rapidly became part of the family. They were wondering what to name him, and happened to be passing Paddington Station at the time, so that was that! Paddington soon acquired a definitive character of his own as well as a miniature duffle coat and hat. As many readers of A Bear Called Paddington will know, he is polite, brave, resourceful, inquisitive and careful ("but not mean", he will explain). He is very good at bargaining, and incredibly lucky in the way he comes out on top, whatever mess he may have got into. Perhaps it is because he is so likeable that everyone helps him.
I first met Paddington in January, 1958, when, for one reason or another, we were feeling rather depressed. I started reading the manuscript on the way home, with the result that I left my umbrella in the bus. After that it was a fight between my husband and myself as to who should read it first, and eventually most of it was read aloud.

To be continued.