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June 28, 2017 at 09:01 AM EDT

Michael Bond, the creator of the beloved children’s book character Paddington Bear, has died at 91 following a short illness. The news was announced Wednesday morning by his publisher, HarperCollins.

Bond was known for his Paddington Bear books, which he first started writing in 1958 while working for the BBC as a cameraman before the popularity of the series allowed him to quit and pursue writing full time. The books followed the adventures of a friendly, marmalade-loving bear from “Darkest Peru,” who is adopted by the Brown family as he’s sitting on his suitcase at Paddington station (for which he’s named), with a note attached saying, “Please look after this bear. Thank you.”

In the 59 years since Paddington’s creation, Bond has written more than 200 books, including those featuring his other character creations, Olga da Polga, A Mouse Called Thursday, and a series of adult novels. His Paddington books have been translated into 30 languages across 70 titles and have sold over 35 million copies worldwide, inspiring whole lines of toys, three different television shows, and a highly successful movie (Paddington, in which Bond even cameoed) with a sequel set to come out later this year. Bond’s latest book about the duffle-coat wearing bear, Paddington’s Finest Hour, is set to be published later this year in October. He was awarded an CBE for his services to children’s literature in 2015 in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2015.

“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,” said Executive Publisher HarperCollins Children’s Books Ann-Janine Murtagh in a statement. “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.”

Added HarperCollins CEO Charlie Redmayne: “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.”

Following the news of Bond’s passing, friends and fans alike took to social media to express their sadness:

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