Thomas Michael Bond was born on 13 January 1926 in Newbury, Berkshire. He was raised in Reading, where his visits to Reading railway station to watch the Cornish Riviera Express pass through started a love of trains. His father was a manager for the post office. He was educated at Presentation College in Reading. His time there was unhappy. He told The Guardian in November 2014 that his parents had chosen the school "for the simple reason [his] mother liked the colour of the blazers ... she didn't make many mistakes in life but that was one of them". Consequently, he left education aged 14, despite his parents' wishes for him to go to university. World War II was under way and he went to work in a solicitor's office for a year and then as an engineer's assistant for the BBC.
On 10 February 1943, Bond survived an air raid in Reading. The building in which he was working collapsed under him, killing 41 people and injuring many more. Shortly afterwards he volunteered for aircrew service in the Royal Air Force as a 17-year-old but he was discharged after suffering from acute air sickness. He then served in the Middlesex Regiment of the British Army until 1947.
Bond began writing in 1945 while stationed with the army in Cairo, and sold his first short story to the magazine London Opinion. He was paid seven guineas, and thought he "wouldn't mind being a writer". In 1958, after producing several plays and short stories and while working as a BBC television cameraman (where he worked on Blue Peter for a time), his first book, A Bear Called Paddington, was published.
This was the start of Bond's series of books recounting the tales of Paddington Bear, a bear from "darkest Peru", whose Aunt Lucy sends him to the United Kingdom, carrying a jar of marmalade. In the first book the Brown family find the bear at Paddington Station, and adopt him, naming the bear after the station. By 1965, Bond was able to give up his BBC job to work full-time as a writer.
Paddington's adventures have sold over 35 million books, have been published in nearly twenty countries, in over forty languages, and have inspired pop bands, race horses, plays, hot air balloons, a movie and television series. Bond stated in December 2007 that he did not plan to continue the adventures of Paddington Bear in further volumes. However, in April 2014 it was reported that a new book, entitled Love From Paddington, would be published that autumn. In a film, Paddington (2014), based on the books, Bond had a credited cameo as the Kindly Gentleman.
Bond also wrote another series of children's books, the adventures of a guinea pig named Olga da Polga, named after the Bond family's pet, as well as the animated BBC television series The Herbs (1968). Bond also wrote culinary mystery stories for adults, featuring Monsieur Pamplemousse and his faithful bloodhound, Pommes Frites.
Bond wrote a Reflection on the Passing of the Years shortly after his 90th birthday. The piece was read by David Attenborough, who also turned 90 in 2016, at the national service of thanksgiving to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II's 90th birthday at St Paul's Cathedral in June 2016. On 20 June 2016, StudioCanal acquired the Paddington franchise outright. Bond was allowed to keep the publishing rights to his series, which he licensed in April 2017 to HarperCollins for the next six years.
For services to children's literature, Bond was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 1997 Birthday Honours and Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2015 Birthday Honours. On 6 July 2007 the University of Reading awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Letters.
Bond was married twice — to Brenda Mary Johnson in 1950, whom he separated from in the 1970s; and to Susan Marfrey Rogers in 1981, soon after his divorce was finalised. He had two children. He lived in London, not far from Paddington Station, the place that inspired many of his books.
Bond died in London on 27 June 2017, at the age of 91. No cause was given.