Michael Bond, creator of Paddington, the duffle-coated bear, died last week at 91. Children love Paddington for his perpetual messiness—his marmalade sandwiches make him “the stickiest bear imaginable”—and for his propensity for getting into scrapes, flooding the bathroom, and getting lost at department stores. But Paddington, for more than half a century, has also been an able ambassador. The polite, hopeful bear has introduced adults and kids to the bewildering, frustrating, exhilarating life of a complex global city. Paddington’s life touches on all aspects of urbanism, from housing to transit to policing to tourism to civic culture.
In Bond’s 1958 book of short stories, A Bear Called Paddington, the small brown bear has arrived in London from darkest Peru, sent by his Aunt Lucy for a better life. The Brown family finds him sitting on a railway platform at Paddington Station platform, a fittingly grand Victorian hall through which to enter a world city. They take him to their home nearby, where he settles in indefinitely.
Paddington, not to be indelicate, is an affluent little bear in his new home, a house with multiple floors within walking distance of the Portobello Road. Mr. Brown, the family patriarch, works in banking; the Browns have a housekeeper and a car, and their two children, Judy and Jonathan, go to boarding school. Mrs. Brown doesn’t work (whether inside the home or out). Even in the postwar era, only a fairly wealthy family could afford such things. Still, the idea that a banker earning a good income could have a nice house in central London big enough for a family wasn’t insane.
Source: for MORE