In October 1958, a forlorn bear with a suitcase sat at London’s Paddington Station, looking around as commuters walked all around him. A note attached to his coat read “Please look after this bear. Thank you.” The Brown family who came across this bear took him home, and named him Paddington Bear, after the location where he was found.
The beloved bear is, of course, from the famous children’s books written by Michael Bond, who based him on a lone bear he saw at a London store near Paddington station. Bond was also inspired by young evacuees leaving London during World War II with labels around their neck, and their possessions packed into small suitcases.
The Paddington Bear books tell the stories of this polite bear whose aunt in Peru sends him to England as a stowaway. He gets into all kinds of scrapes in London but always tries hard to get things right. The series and character became a huge hit, and the books have sold over 30 million copies worldwide.
After nearly 60 years since their publication, the little bear from Peru can still be found at the train station under the clock on Platform 1, looking for help. A life-size bronze statue of Paddington Bear designed by sculptor Marcus Cornish was unveiled in February 2000. There’s also a Paddington Bear store in the station, full of merchandise dedicated to one of literature’s favorite furry friends. (And there is another Paddington statue, this one more than 6000 miles away, in the little bear’s hometown of Lima, Peru.)
Update June, 2017: Update: The statue can be found at platform 1, not at the escalator pictured above, as they’re having work done and needed to move him.