Please Look After Michael Bond on His 90th Birthday. Thank You.

via The Sunday Times


The one and only Michael Bond is 90 years old today!

All of us here at Alphabet Soup — especially the 50-something resident Paddingtons — are in a full out tizzy of joy. We’ve been rereading the stories, noshing on marmalade sandwiches, sloshing about in our wellies, and ever-so-politely tipping our bush hats to honor the man who gave us our beloved bear from Darkest Peru some 57 years ago.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Rescuing a lone bear from a department store shelf on Christmas Eve says a lot about a man. This small kindhearted gesture would prove to be delightfully fortuitous, spawning a bear chapter book written in just 10 days, 25 more published novels, numerous picture books, board books, an avalanche of Paddington-related toys and other merchandise, several television series, a play, and an award-winning motion picture. Paddington’s likeness has appeared on postage stamps and marmalade jars, and a Paddington balloon was recently introduced in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Paddington as a stop-motion puppet for his FilmFair television series (1975).

As my most favorite bear character ever, Paddington is as charming as they come with his unfailing optimism and politeness, capital bargaining skills, strong sense of right and wrong, uncanny knack for getting out of scrapes, and masterful hard stare. It’s no wonder he’s a British institution  — he seems to bring out the best in people, and his immigrant status — a stranger in a strange land — makes him instantly relatable as well as refreshingly contemporary. If I spotted him on a railway platform, I’d adopt him in a minute.

Wagon full of advertising Paddingtons (he briefly went astray and pushed Marmite instead of marmalade). Quite a fiasco.



photo by Geoff Pugh via The Telegraph

1. Paddington was inspired in part by Mr. Bond’s father, a very polite man who got into scrapes and always wore a hat — even while wading in the sea.

2. When Mr. Bond was growing up in Reading, Berkshire, he liked to visit the railway station to watch the steam locomotives. Later, during WWII, he sometimes saw child evacuees there with tags around their necks carrying suitcases (city children escaping the Blitz and Jewish refugees) — a sad sight that profoundly affected him.

3. Mr. Bond began writing while serving in the British Army during WWII. In addition to publishing short stories, he wrote radio and TV plays during his spare time while working for the BBC. He was an avid reader as a child, favoring a magazine called “The Magnet,” where he noted the value of catch phrases and repetition — something he would later use in his Paddington books. He started out writing plot-driven stories; Paddington taught him to write character-driven fiction. He maintains that Paddington is a very real person to him.

4. He never intended to write a children’s book. As a writing exercise (after catching sight of the bear stocking stuffer he’d purchased for his wife), he imagined what it would be like if a real bear landed at Paddington Station. He named the bear Paddington, since they lived near the station, gave the bear his clothes (an army surplus duffle coat and hat) + a love for marmalade (since he liked toast and marmalade for breakfast), and used familiar places in his story like Portobello Road and Notting Hill.

First Edition Paddington novels

5. Mr. Bond’s daughter Karen was born two months after the first Paddington book was published (1958), and some of her childhood experiences found their way into subsequent stories. Karen was born with a debilitating hip condition requiring numerous surgeries and many years in the hospital. These experiences heightened Mr. Bond’s awareness of the desperate need for medical research into a wide range of diseases and disabilities, eventually prompting him to offer his (and Paddington’s) support to Action Medical Research. Paddington has been AMR’s Official Mascot for 40 years, participating in many fundraising events. A former AMR trustee, today Karen is the Managing Director of Paddington & Co.

Michael with Karen (age 6) via Journalist Portfolio.
via Action Medical Research for Children (click to read Karen’s article).

6. Recently a group of mums in Sheffield, England, organized “Project Paddington” to address the humanitarian crisis in Syria and Iraq. They collected and shipped 25,000 teddy bears with handwritten welcome messages donated by children to give to refugee children. They also raised approximately £40,000 for Tearfund’s Refugee Crisis Fund and Samara’s Aid Appeal. Through the magic of social media, this local grassroots effort rapidly expanded to include 560 school districts across the UK with support pledges from around the world. Personal messages like, “When you hug this bear, remember somebody loves you” were both heartbreaking and heartwarming.

Bears donated by Portreath CP School (Primary), Cornwall (photo by Sophie Orme).

Paddington’s likeness even made an appearance in last September’s big Solidarity with Refugees rally in London, where tens of thousands gathered to show their support.

photo by Thom Davies

7. Paddington travels in royal circles! Both Prince Harry and Prince William seem to have a soft spot for him. The medical students at St. Mary’s Hospital gave Prince William his Paddington when he was born, and when George came along, William purchased a Paddington for him from Harrods. Prince William was also delighted to be greeted by Paddington when the movie premiered in China.

via Daily Star

As for Harry, he totally rocked a Paddington apron while making little cakes during a charity event in Lesotho. 🙂

8. Speaking of the “Paddington” movie, it was named Best Feature Film of 2015 at BAFTA’s Children’s Awards! Hooray! Even more good news — a sequel is in the works even as we speak. 🙂

9. Mr. Bond was awarded a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for services to children’s literature in the Fall of 2015. He was previously awarded an OBE (Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in 1997. Paddington attended both the OBE and CBE ceremonies at Buckingham Palace with Mr. Bond, even though Mr. Bond was a little worried about Paddington sneaking in a marmalade sandwich under his hat despite the palace “no food” policy.

photo by Yui Mok/PA via
Mr. Bond with his daughter Karen Jankel.



To celebrate Mr. Bond’s birthday, the resident Paddingtons made marmalade sandwiches and a yummy Yogurt-Marmalade Cake. Naturally they also brewed a nice pot of tea and would love for you to help yourself.

The Yogurt-Marmalade Cake recipe is from Ree Drummond and seemed just the thing for those who like a simple tea cake with a sticky marmalade and yogurt glaze drizzled over it. The full cup of plain lowfat yogurt in the cake batter adds a sour cream-like richness without all the calories (not that Paddington needs to diet). The recipe is so easy to make, even accident-prone Paddington couldn’t mess it up. Wait. On second thought . . .


Cake Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 heaping cup plain, lowfat yogurt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 whole zest of lemon
  • 1/2 cup canola oil

Orange Glaze

  • 1/2 cup prepared orange marmalade
  • 1/4 cup yogurt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a loaf pan with non-stick baking spray or grease and flour it.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix together 1 cup yogurt, sugar, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, and canola oil until just combined; do not over beat.

Pour into a loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Remove from pan.

While cake is cooling, pour marmalade into a sauce pan. Heat it on low until melted, stirring occasionally. Add 1/4 cup of yogurt to the pan and turn off the heat. Stir to combine, then pour slowly over the top of the cake, allowing icing to pool around the sides.

Serves 12

~ Adapted from The Pioneer Woman’s recipe.







While you’re enjoying your tea and cake, check out this little gallery featuring Paddington as he’s been illustrated by different artists over the years, and as he’s been produced as a plush toy by different manufacturers.


Peggy Fortnum, original illustrator (1958)
Fred Banbury, first published 1972.
Ivor Wood, first published 1975.
David McKee, first published 1984.
Barry Macey, first published 1984.
R.W. Alley, current illustrator (since 1997).


Plush Toy Makers

Gabrielle Designs (first to make a plush Paddington in 1972).
Eden Toys (since 1975).
More Eden Toys
Rainbow Designs
Limited Edition Steiff (2015)
More Paddingtons by Yottoy and Rainbow Designs

Well, I think he’s quite handsome no matter what, and it’s fun to see his different looks. Whether you like him with or without wellies, fluffy fur or smooth, dressed in his classic duffle coat or one of his occupational outfits, his essence remains the same: a bear with a good heart and impeccable manners who represents tolerance, acceptance, and traditional values, and who’s able to endear himself to people of all ages, ethnicities, and political persuasions. So much more than just a storybook character, Paddington marches on for charity, health, and humanity. He’s just the sort of  bear you can count on — quite like the man who created him. 🙂





♥ Other Paddington posts at Alphabet Soup

Hmmmm, 90 seems to be a good number. We presently have 50-something resident Paddingtons. Only 30-something more to go . . . 🙂


by R.W. Alley (2016)


Copyright © 2016 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.




26 thoughts on “Please Look After Michael Bond on His 90th Birthday. Thank You.

  1. Oh, this is so wonderful, Jama, a lovely trip down memory lane, with cake & marmalade too. (The recipe looks delicious, BTW). I have loved Paddington, but didn’t know all the facts you shared above. It’s a sweet story, the beginning & that Mr. Bond is celebrating his ninetieth birthday today! I read as many books as I could about Paddington to my daughter, & she had one. A few years ago a young woman with whom I worked at another school had her first baby, and as her school also had a pre-school named Paddington Station, I took her our Paddington for her new baby. I may now have to find another for the grand-girls! I loved seeing all the pics, but that final one by Mr. Alley is special indeed! Thanks for all!


    1. Thanks for dropping by the celebration, Linda! You must definitely get another bear or two or three or four for your grand-girls!! 🙂

      Believe it or not, I wasn’t introduced to the Paddington books until I was an adult — my students in Wimbledon gave me a Paddington ruler and I’ve been hooked ever since. Pooh seems to be more well known in the U.S. and that’s largely due to Disney. But Paddington’s still my fave bear character.


  2. Jama, you are a wizard! This article is childhood and whimsy personified. I came to know Paddington as an adult (shopping for a baby gift) but he touches my heart none the less. One question, do you actually own & display all the wonderful bears & accessories? If so, how do you display/store? Come to think of it—would you share a tour of your house? Is there a shelf based on eating in Hawaii on New Year’s? Or perhaps it is time to do an illustrated/photographed autobiography? It would be such fun w/ pets and grandchildren too?
    Anyway, thank you for your work–never fails to cheer me up each day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I only came to know Paddington as an adult too, and I’m so glad my students introduced me to him. All the plush Paddingtons in the photos are indeed mine, as well as all the china and other props. I have other kinds of teddy bears too, but only the Paddingtons have their own closet (with glass doors). My china hutches are overflowing and it’s hard to justify new purchases with so little storage space. But that’s my weakness.

      No shelf about Hawaii and New Years. And sorry, no house tours (this would mean I would actually have to clean and dust!). :^)

      Thanks for stopping by to read and nosh with us! Glad to hear you like Paddington too.


  3. Happy birthday, Mr Bond! I adore the original Paddington books, although I will say that the first two are my absolute absolute favourites. And with Peggy Fortnum’s artwork, please! I do have two small picture books about Paddington, which I bought in London quite a few years ago, with the most recent artist’s work in them, and they are very nice, too. But Peggy’s is still my favourite.

    Is that a Paddington salt shaker on the plate with the heart-shaped sandwiches?


    1. Not a salt shaker, it’s a Paddington finger puppet! There’s one of Aunt Lucy too. 🙂

      It had to be a great moment when Mr. Bond first saw Peggy’s illustrations — the very first visual representation of the character he created.


    1. Glad you enjoyed the post, Marcia. I only recently learned about Karen — what a beautiful family! Paddington is in such good hands. 🙂


  4. Fantastic. I loved reading your post and looking at the pictures. I’m definitely going to try that yogurt marmalade cake!


  5. Jama, thank you for your wonderful blog. You have introduced me to so many amazing books and authors. I must also thank Susan Branch for introducing her girlfriends to your blog! I made this cake and it was delicious! I’m making it again for a birthday – I debated on a loaf cake as a birthday cake, but this one is so delicious and colourful that I think it will be perfect. Thanks again for the time you spend sharing with us, it’s very much appreciated.


    1. Hi Suzanne,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to tell me you baked the cake and liked it! I’ve been pleased with all the PW recipes I’ve tried so far.

      And thanks for being out there and reading and supporting Alphabet Soup. Means so much!!!


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