Paddington bear celebrates 50th birthday

He would hardly appear out-of-place in any group of 50-year-old males: a little gnarled, anachronistically dressed, and clinging on to accessories which have seen better days. But what marks out Paddington bear, who celebrates his half-century today, is that he has always looked like this.

It is 50 years since the first story featuring Paddingon, the iconic bear found at his namesake West London station and beloved of many an English schoolchild, was published by former BBC radio engineer and cameraman Michael Bond.

The first Paddington story, entitled A Bear Called Paddington was released on 13 October 1958. The book described the bear's first year in Britain, from his discovery at Paddington station by his owners Mr and Mrs Brown, through the trauma of his first experience of bathing, and concluded with the anniversary of his fortuitous discovery.

Mr Bond describes how a pang of sympathy for a neglected toy bear in a London shop inspired him to write the children's stories which have since been translated into 30 languages, and sold more than 30 million copies around the world: "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. It wasn’t written specifically for children, but I think I put into it the kind things I liked reading about when I was young."

To celebrate the marmalade-loving bear's 50th, search engine Google has adorned the logo on its homepage with a picture of Paddington carrying his trademark battered suitcase and standing at a crossroads between his native Peru and London.

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