Monday, April 11, 2016

Peggy Fortnum, Illustrator of Paddington, Dies at 96

Peggy Fortnum in an undated photograph. A noted teacher once told her she would succeed if she avoided illustrating “talking animals wearing clothes.”
He was an orphaned immigrant from “darkest Peru” who took his name from the Central London railway station where he was rescued by an agreeable English couple named Mr. and Mrs. Brown. They spotted him on the platform, sitting alone on an old leather suitcase and sporting an odd-looking hat and a handwritten label that implored, “Please look after this bear.”

The bear sprang from the imagination of Michael Bond, a BBC cameraman who had bought a forsaken teddy bear in Selfridges, the London department store, on Christmas Eve in 1956 as an eleventh-hour gift for his wife. It inspired him to write “A Bear Called Paddington,” published in 1958.

But it fell to Peggy Fortnum, a British illustrator, to envision what this small, brown, furry, lonely bear would look like. After photographing Malayan bears at the London Zoo, she depicted, in black and white with pen and ink, an endearingly frumpy refugee with a floppy hat and duffel coat — ignoring her London art tutor’s advice that she never draw animals that talked and wore clothes.

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