Having had the honour of dressing Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, it will not come as a surprise that we are very fond of the United Kingdom. What better companion for our ambassador Charlotte than an English bear? But who is he exactly and who lies behind this delightful character?
THE AUTHOR BEHIND BURLINGTON BEAR
Can you briefly present yourself?
My name is Madeleine Hall and I have written a series of children’s books about the adventures of Burlington Bear. Hand illustrated and written by myself the series charts the somewhat haphazard exploits of the quintessential British bear, Burlington. Inspired by my time working for The Queen at Buckingham Palace and the auction house, Sotheby’s, the series was first published in 2012 to critical acclaim.
When and why did you start writing children’s books?
When I was a little girl I was always creating stories and illustrations. The adventures of Burlington Bear first came about when I forgot a book on holiday and armed with only a sketchpad to amuse myself I sat down and created Burlington inspired by the teddy bear of my childhood.
Can you share about your writing and illustration process ? Please take us behind the scene!
Everyday life tends to inspire me as do my children. The most wonderful thing about the imagination is you can travel anywhere on the globe by whatever means possible. When I sit down to write I am creating a story through Burlington’s eyes, imagining what he would encounter and the experiences he would have.
Can you please tell us a little about your experience working for the Queen? What has it taught you?
I worked for the Equerry to The Queen at Buckingham Palace. The Equerry plans all military engagements for The Queen and also accompanies her to Investitures, Garden Parties, audiences with the Prime Minister etc. The Queen worked tirelessly and still does and that in itself is inspiring. It was the grace of the lady’s in waiting that has really stayed with me and something I try to instill in my children. They were always so kind, polite, and gracious. I firmly believe good manners are still important even in 2021!
Madeleine is a very French name yet you seem very fond of England. Can you tell us a little about your link with both countries?
I was named after the British Special Operations Executive Noor Inayat Khan whose code name was Madeleine. She was incredibly brave and won the George Cross and the Croix de Guerre and lost her life trying to fight for freedom in the Second World War. I have always loved my name! Incidentally Noor wrote children’s stories in French and English!
I have always loved France and dreamed of visiting Paris when I was a little girl. I find the history, culture and language so fascinating. My earliest memory is our elderly neighbour who would bake French 'Madeleines' every week and my mother used to cook my most favourite pudding of all time, 'l'île flottante' which still brings me back to my childhood.
However I do love London and the United Kingdom. It will forever be home regardless of where I live!
Why a bear? Is it linked to the soft toys of your childhood?
Yes he is! Burlington Bear comes from a little shop in Burlington Arcade on Piccadilly in London. He was and is my most loved and treasured teddy bear from my childhood and the inspiration behind my stories.
What values or message are you aiming to convey through your books?
The books are written to pique the curiosity of the explorative young reader and open up a highly individual world of words. I wish children to discover new vocabulary, gain a breadth of new words and meanings which will quite simply help to develop their language skills.
With a delightfully arch sense of humour I am hoping to bring a smile to young and old who read my books.
CHINESE PORTRAIT OF BURLINGTON
As you will soon discover through his many adventures, Burlington is truly one of a kind. To present him under his very best light, we have asked him to brush a Chinese portrait of himself.
If you were … an animal ?
Why, a bear of course. I have dark brown eyes that sparkle, a smile under my worn brown nose and fluffy brown ears. I am a very kind, loveable sort of bear, more a honey bear than a Grizzly bear!
If you were ... a city ?
London - I love adventure but London is stamped on my heart. I live at Number One Piccadilly in Mayfair with my butler Bumbridge and Cook. I am not far from Buckingham Palace and Green Park where I can often be spotted taking a stroll with Duchess, The Queen’s favourite corgi.
If you were … a cake ?
There is only one answer, Carrot cake! Surely the carrots make it healthy. My Cook makes the most delicious carrot cake and as you will find out I love nothing more than a cup of Earl Grey tea and a large slice of carrot cake.
If you were … a piece of clothing ?
It would have to be my bow-ties. I have quite a collection, but my favourite is my red and white spotty bow-tie.
If you were … a quality ?
Kindness is essential but a sense of humour is paramount. I am a haphazard bear and often get my paws into sticky mischief but I am curious too and yearn for adventure! You see I have more than one important quality!
If you were … a quote ?
Well it would have to be from Oscar Wilde, another lover of Paris. “To be great is to be misunderstood” or is it the other way round…
Now that Burlington Bear has been properly introduced, follow along and join us for adventures around the world.
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To shop Madeleine's books and read the existing stories of Burlington Bear, please click here.