It was a last-minute Christmas gift for his wife that inspired Michael Bond to create Paddington bear, the marmalade-loving teddy in a duffel coat and floppy hat. Bond would go on to see his creation enchant children for more than half a century and become an icon immortalized in print, on screens, and as countless stuffed toys before his death at age 91. His publisher, HarperCollins, said Wednesday that the author died at his home a day earlier after a short illness, the AP reports. HarperCollins exec Ann-Janine Murtagh said Bond "will be forever remembered for his creation of the iconic Paddington ... which touched my own heart as a child and will live on in the hearts of future generations."
The furry adventurer first appeared in A Bear Called Paddington in 1958—a stowaway from "Darkest Peru" who arrived at London's Paddington train station. Adopted by the kindly Brown family, the misadventure-prone bear went on to star in more than 20 books, several television series, and a 2014 feature film. A sequel is currently in production. Born in England in 1926, Bond served in both the Royal Air Force and the British Army during World War II. He began writing while stationed with the army in Egypt in 1945. He was working as a BBC cameraman when he created Paddington, inspired by a teddy bear he bought for his wife one Christmas Eve as a stocking filler. He named the character after the station he used for daily commutes. (Read more Paddington Bear stories.)