The Story Of Edward, The Cover Bear

Written by Judi

December 1, 2023

There’s a reason that the teddy on my new book cover is actually a photo of my very own Edward Bear, given to me as a baby. And that’s simply because no other bear would do.

The bears on offer for the first cover draft just didn’t feel right. Styles have changed since the 1950s, and the teddies suggested were either overly modern (too fluffy, too Disney, too smiley) or else they were the real thing (bear-like, dignified, probably a Steiff original), but were too worn and damaged. You might expect a teddy to be moth-eaten and missing an eye or two after 60 years. But a mangy bear wouldn’t have been right, because although my book includes some painful childhood memories, it is certainly no ‘misery memoir’. My early years featured no physical abuse. Cover Bear had to reflect this fairly. It must be in reasonable condition for its age, while also being a survivor.

And a survivor my Edward undoubtedly is, because for a while he was a long-lost bear. There’s only a passing reference to his loss in this book, which spans my childhood up to my early teens. But the fact is, he spent 12 years abandoned in a suitcase, disappearing from my life when I was nine. This happened because, after a year or two living in Switzerland, there was uncertainty about where I’d be going next. I was flown to London to join my itinerant parents, who were finding me an English boarding school. And, since we had no fixed abode, a suitcase containing all my toys remained behind – and was forgotten.

I was 21 and at university when the stranded luggage suddenly turned up in London, forwarded by some kind Swiss person. On opening the mysterious suitcase, my poor mother wept, as the contents seemed to represent a lost childhood. There at the top was my doll, its plastic face gruesomely moulded away with age like a prop in a horror movie. Edward and a smaller bear called Tessa were unchanged, just a little squashed.

Edward remains a fine bear. He deserves his place on the cover, and has every right to look a little grumpy. Tessa, meanwhile, has been adopted by my niece, and was last spotted (no pun intended) in her rucksack this summer, during a walking holiday in Northumbria.

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