Friday, January 11, 2019

Champions of Creativity

Michael Bond

When my first son, David, was born, Paddington became a big deal in our home. His likeness showed up in not only books, but as stuffed animals, dishes, & video tapes.

So, when I learned that British author, Michael Bond - the creator of the precocious bear - would have celebrated his ninety-third year this Sunday, I decided to feature him as a Champion of Creativity.

One reason I occasionally feature an icon in creativity, is that I always learn some surprising tidbit about the "champion" that I would have otherwise never known. That is certainly the case with Mr. Bond.

Michael Bond was born on January 13, 1926, in Newbury, Berkshire, in England. He was educated at Presentation College in Reading, but being extremely unhappy there, he left his formal education at the age of fourteen - much to the chagrin of his parents. With World War II under way, he went to work as an engineer's assistant for the BBC.  On February 10, 1943, the building in which he was working was bombed, killing 41 people and injuring dozens more. Afterwards, he served briefly in the RAF, but due to severe air sickness, he was discharged. He ended up serving in the British Army, and it was while stationed in Cairo, Egypt, in 1945, that Bond began writing.

After the war, he worked as a cameraman for the BBC and continued writing plays and short stories. It was not until 1958 that he finally had his first book published: A Bear Called Paddington.

After dropping out of formal education at the age of fourteen this self-taught writer became one of the most successful children's book authors of all time. Surely his time during World War II was an education of an extraordinary type, unfortunately. But Bond managed somehow, some way, to have the confidence to keep writing. I find that incredible fact so inspiring. He had such perseverance.

Mr. Bond penned several stories featuring his beloved Paddington.
He also wrote two short films for the BBC, as well as two children's television series: "The Herbs" and "The Adventures of Parsley."
Additionally, Bond wrote dozens of stories for his imaginative characters: Olga da Polga and Monsieur Pamplemousse.

On July 6, 2007 the University of Reading recognized Michael Bond's extraordinary expertise in writing, when they awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Letters. What an unlikely journey the author had taken to receive a university degree - and so well-served.

He was also honored when he was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1997; then in 2017 he received the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).

The adventures of Paddington have sold over 35 million books.

Michael Bond died on June 27, 2017, in London, England.

The movie - Paddington 2, was dedicated to his memory.