THE marmalade-loving bear’s final adventure, Paddington at St Paul’s, in which he is mistaken for a choirboy on an outing with Mr Gruber, is published tomorrow (Harpercollins, £12.99). His creator, Michael Bond, died last year. ‘He was working on it very shortly before he died,’ explains his daughter, Karen Jankel. ‘He kept that magic touch right until the end. He always had to be writing, it was always his way, right through his life.
‘I feel so fortunate that his spirit lives on through Paddington,’ she continues, ‘who is a very important member of our family and, I hope, will continue to be so for a long time to come.’
Illustrated by R. W. Alley, as ‘Paddington’ stories have been since 1997, the new and final tale marks the 60th anniversary of the first, A Bear Called Paddington (1958). Since then, the ‘Paddington’ books have sold more than 35 million copies worldwide and the bear’s adventures have been translated into 40 different languages. Harpercollins will be celebrating the anniversary from June to December this year, with new-edition books, parties and storytelling events.
Executive publisher Ann-janine Murtagh comments: ‘Michael Bond’s Paddington Bear stories are marked by the author’s deeply felt values of justice and tolerance, hope and optimism and infused with his infectious humour and joie de vivre. They are as relevant to readers today as they were when he first wrote them nearly 60 years ago.’