Michael Bond, the creator of Paddington bear, has died at the age of 91 following a short illness.
His publisher, HarperCollins, confirmed that the author had died at home on Tuesday.
A spokesperson for HarperCollins said: “It is with great sadness that we announce that Michael Bond, CBE, the creator of one of Britain’s best-loved children’s characters, Paddington, died at home yesterday aged 91 following a short illness.”
The Berkshire-born author published his first book - A Bear Called Paddington - in 1958, and continued writing until his death.
His most recent Paddington story was published in April, titled Paddington’s Finest Hour.
Ann-Janine Murtagh, executive publisher of HarperCollins Children’s Books, said: “I feel privileged to have been Michael Bond’s publisher – he was a true gentleman, a bon viveur, the most entertaining company and the most enchanting of writers.
“He will be forever remembered for his creation of the iconic Paddington, with his duffle coat and wellington boots, which touched my own heart as a child and will live on in the hearts of future generations.
“My thoughts and love are with his wife, Sue and his children Karen and Anthony.”
The writer became a beloved giant of children’s literature after his first book, A Bear Called Paddington, was published in 1958 about the bear from Peru who loves marmalade.
English author Bond wrote 150 books in total, with 25 additional books about Paddington following his first effort.
Charlie Redmayne, HarperCollins CEO, said: “Michael Bond was one of the great children’s writers and at HarperCollins we are immensely fortunate to have published him and to have known him.
“He was a wonderful man and leaves behind one of the great literary legacies of our time.”
In 2014, Bond told Press Association how he had, once upon a time on Christmas Eve, found himself on Oxford Street looking for a small gift for his wife’s Christmas stocking.
Snow had started to fall and he found himself outside Selfridges.
“There was this one bear sitting on the shelf and I felt sorry for him,” he recalled.
“Someone once said ‘A doll’s always wondering what they’re going to wear next, but there’s something about a bear – you feel you can tell it your secrets and it won’t give them away’.”
The bear in question turned out to be the very toy that inspired him to write A Bear Called Paddington.
The author gave the film Paddington his blessing because, while the bear has appeared on stage and television over the years, a movie was “the one thing Paddington hadn’t done”.
He said in a 2014 interview: “What’s nice about the film is the fact that all the cast are in it because they like Paddington, they’ve all been brought up with Paddington and there was a very nice atmosphere on set.”