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I was brought up in London and my first school was the French Lycée in South Kensington, so the first books I remember reading were the adventures of Barbar the Elephant and The Adventures of Tintin. I loved the illustrations as much as the words.

I loved the works of Enid Blyton, too. Noddy was one of my childhood heroes. (My wife says she can tell.)  My favourite Enid Blyton story was definitely The Faraway Tree.  It’s a classic, as far as I am concerned.

The books I read as a child have stayed with me all my life and, in many ways, shaped my life. I have a large collection of teddy bears that now lives at Newby Hall in North Yorkshire. I am sure that I began collecting teddy bears because, as a small boy, I just loved the adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh and I wanted to live – yes, actually live – in the world of Rupert Bear. (In my head, I do.)

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