by Alison Flood)
A series of letters penned by Paddington Bear to his Aunt Lucy - safely ensconced in her "home for retired bears" in Lima - will be published this autumn.
Author Michael Bond, whose marmalade sandwich-loving Peruvian bear first sauntered onto the page in 1958's A Bear Called Paddington, said this morning that "it isn't generally known, but bears are very good at writing letters". Love from Paddington will be published by HarperCollins in November, and will provide Paddington's take on his legendary adventures, as he tells Aunt Lucy about his arrival in London, and his first encounter with the Brown family at Paddington station.
"Trains were humming, loudspeakers blaring, porters rushing about shouting at one another, and altogether there was so much noise that Mr Brown, who saw him first, had to tell his wife several times before she understood. 'A bear? On Paddington station?' Mrs Brown looked at her husband in amazement. 'Don't be silly, Henry. There can't be!" wrote Bond, over 50 years ago, in A Bear Called Paddington.
And then, later: "Seeing that something was expected of it the bear stood up and politely raised its hat, revealing two black ears. 'Good afternoon,' it said, in a small clear voice ... The bear puffed out its chest. 'I'm a very rare sort of bear,' he replied importantly. 'There aren't many of us left where I come from.' 'And where is that?' asked Mrs Brown. The bear looked round carefully before replying. 'Darkest Peru. I'm not really supposed to be here at all. I'm a stowaway.'"
Paddington goes on to tell of how he decided to emigrate after his Aunt Lucy in Peru, with whom he used to live, went into a home for retired bears: "'Aunt Lucy always said she wanted me to emigrate when I was old enough. That's why she taught me to speak English.'" He is then taken home by the Brown family.
A Bear Called Paddington has been in print continuously since it was first published. Bond, who is 88 and who was awarded the OBE in July 1997, has written a number of Paddington stories since, most recently 2012's Paddington Races Ahead.
HarperCollins said that the letters would be "full of Paddington's inimitable charm and humour and his unique world view", as they recount the "highly amusing escapades" of a character cherished by generations of readers.
A new Paddington film starring Hugh Bonneville, Nicole Kidman, Sally Hawkins, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters and Colin Firth, is also out in November, produced by David Heyman.
"It gives me great pleasure to see Paddington, the iconic London bear and his creator Michael Bond, both of whom are dearly loved by all of us at HarperCollins, taking on the world this year with this beautiful book of letters and a major film," said spokesperson Rachel Denwood