Pisco Sours, but no marmalade sandwiches
There was a celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the publication of A Bear Called Paddington last night at the London residence of the Peruvian Ambassador, Susana de la Puente-Wiese.
Among the guests were author Sir Michael Bond's widow Sue, daughter Karen Jankel, and first wife Brenda, who at Christmas 1956 received a stuffed bear bought in Selfridges - because "he was sitting all by himself on a shelf".
While he was writing the book, Bond imagined that Paddington came from Darkest Africa, but his editor pointed out there were no bears there. Peru has the Spectacled Bear in the Andes. The books have since sold 35 million copies in 40 languages; Michael Bond received the Orden El Sol in 2017 for his contribution to relations between Peru and the UK; on his 50th Anniversary Paddington received a Peruvian passport ("which he has used"); and in Lima there is a statue of Paddington bearing the legend: "Welcome to brightest Peru".
Ann-Janine Murtagh of HarperCollins remembered Barbara Kerr-Wilson, the first reader, who "strongly recommended acceptance" of the book. She welcomed Caroline and Emma, from illustrator Peggy Fortnum's family; Paul King, director of the Paddington films; and Stephen Durbridge and Hilary Delamere, Bond's agents. She spoke of Paddington as a hero for our time, and of his hard stare. Both Paddington and Michael Bond were toasted with Peruvian cocktail Pisco Sour. There was no evidence of marmalade sandwiches.
Photo: Ann-Janine Murtagh at the lectern; on her left are Peruvian ambassador Susana de la Puente-Wiese and Miguel Palomino of the Peruvian Economic Institute