You can be aware of something your whole life without knowing anything about its creator.
Paddington Bear’s creator, Michael Bond, has died at age 91.
He passed away at home after a brief illness.
On December 24th, 1956, Michael Bond noticed a lonely-looking stuffed bear sitting on a shelf.
On impulse, he bought it for his wife.
Inspired, he wrote A Bear Called Paddington in just 10 days.
On October 13th, 1958, that book was published.
But that was only the beginning.
Paddington Bear’s adventures in books have been ongoing.
The last story about the marmalade-loving bear, titled Paddington’s Finest Hour, came out in April.
It’s not uncommon for authors to keep publishing until their dying days.
Needless to say, it’s very rare for an author to continue writing for 61 years.
Not to mention having such a degree of success and a cultural impact that spans the globe.
Michael Bond had an Order Of The British Empire, which is like an Order of Merlin from Harry Potter, except real.
(I was a kid when Harry Potter came out and there are a lot of things that I thought were wizard things that turned out to just be British)
The Duke of Cambridge himself presented Bond with the award in an Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
This was only two years ago.
HarperCollins issued a statement about Michael Bond’s passing:
“It is with great sadness that we announce that Michael Bond, CBE, the creator of one of Britain’s best-loved children’s characters, Paddington, died at home yesterday aged 91 following a short illness.”
Michael Bond’s own daughter, Karen Jankel, also spoke about her late father:
“It’s a shock to everybody. For me, he was the most wonderful father you can imagine, so obviously our loss is personal.”
So many people think of their favorite singers or actors or writers with regard to their art, celebrity status, and creations.
It’s too easy to forget that they’re real people with families and personal relationships that have nothing to do with their craft.
Karen, however, seems very aware of her father’s global cultural impact, and her statement includes a nod to that:
“But it’s wonderful that he’s left the legacy of his books and Paddington that will live on for ever, which is really very special.”
“The whole world is lucky to have had him … Paddington himself is so real to all of us. He’s still a part of our family and we’re very lucky.”
We can’t imagine how hard it is to to tailor your response to fans while you’re still grieving.
Karen Jankel continues, honoring her father’s work.
“For him, writing was his life. It was wonderful he could continue writing until the end,” she said. “Because … Paddington and his other characters were so real to him, he became alive to everybody else.”
But she doesn’t leave out his character.
“You can tell just by reading his books what a lovely person he was. I never came across anybody who disliked my father.”
“He was one of those people that people instinctively warmed to and he was as funny as a person and delightful as he was in his writing and as a father.”
That is incredibly touching.
A lot of people grew up with Paddington Bear, and most of them are old enough to appreciate the joy that this man’s creation brought them as children.
Future children will enjoy Paddington Bear all the same — that’s the magic of creating a legacy like that.