Michael Bond was born on January 13, 1926. He is best known as the creator of Paddington Bear.
Bond dropped out of school at 14, and enlisted in the British Army at 17, during World War II. He began writing short stories while stationed in Cairo, and had several plays produced during the decade after the war.
His first book, A Bear Called Paddington (e-book, e-audio, print) was published in 1958, introducing the beloved bear to the world. The book tells the story of how Paddington traveled to London from "darkest Peru." He is found by the Brown family, lost and confused, at Paddington Station. They adopt him and name him Paddington. His adventures continue in more than a dozen chapter books, each containing six or seven stand-alone chapters/stories about Paddington, as well as several single-story picture books for younger children. Several of the Paddington books are available as e-books and e-audios.
Paddington's adventures are simple. He has his first bath; he attempts to mow the lawn; he takes up painting; the family goes to the movies. He tries very hard to do the right thing, but makes the same mistakes that all children make as they grow up. Paddington gets into a great deal of innocent trouble, despite his good intentions, but everything always turns out well in the end.
The Paddington stories have been translated into more than 30 languages. He is popular around the world, but he is a cultural icon in England. When the rail tunnel between England and France was being built in 1994, the first item chosen by the British tunnelling crew to pass through to their French counterparts was a Paddington doll.
Paddington has been adapted for film and television several times. A British television series from the 1970s and 1980s used stop-motion animation to move a Paddington puppet against background drawings. Two episodes of that series are available on streaming video. A series from the late 1990s, done in traditional animation, ran for three season, and is available in full on streaming video. And a 2015 feature film, featuring a computer-animated Paddington, is available on DVD; a sequel is being released in US theaters this month.
The final collection of Paddington stories is due to be published on June 27, 2018, exactly one year after Bond's death and almost sixty years after the first collection was published.
Also This Week
- January 10, 1927: Fritz Lang's Metropolis was released in Germany. The silent classic is set in a futuristic dystopia, where the son of a wealthy businessman and a poor laborer struggle to bridge the social divide when they fall in love. The original version of the movie was about 2 1/2 hours long, but various distributors began cutting it almost immediately; the US release, in March 1927, was under 2 hours. Several different versions and restorations exist. An 83-minute version from 1984, producer by musician Giorgio Moroder, features a rock soundtrack with songs by (among others) Freddie Mercury, Pat Benatar, and Adam Ant. A damaged copy of the original print was found in 2008, allowing the film to be restored to almost its original length, with the original score.
- January 9, 1928: Judith Krantz was born. Krantz is a novelist who specializes in romances set among the wealthy, usually featuring a protagonist who has fought her way up from poverty. Several of her novels were adapted as television miniseries during the 1980s. Krantz came to writing relatively late in life; her first novel, Scruples (e-book, print), was published when she was 50.
- January 9, 1928: Domenico Modugno was born. Modugno was a popular singer-songwriter and actor in Italy who had an unlikely pop hit in the United States in 1958 with "Volare (Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu)." "Volare" won the Record of the Year and Song of the Year awards at the first Grammy Awards ceremony, still the only foreign-language song to do so. Modugno retired from performing in 1984, after a stroke left him partially paralyzed. He later spent five years as a member of the Italian Parliament, where he fought for the rights of disabled people.
- January 13, 1978: Nate Silver was born. Silver is a writer and statistician who first entered the public eye as the creator of PECOTA, a statistical system for predicting the career performance of baseball players. In 2008, Silver created fivethirtyeight.com, a website devoted to statistical analysis of politics. His 2008 book The Signal and the Noise (e-book, e-audio, print) looks at examples from baseball, poker, weather forecasting, and politics to explore how we make predictions and why we are so often wrong.