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Winnie the Pooh

Page history last edited by MrsK Books 3 years, 2 months ago

"...wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing."

Pooh was purchased at Harrods for Christopher Robin's first birthday in 1921.

Piglet was a gift from a neighbor that same year, while Eyeore was a Christmas gift.

A.A. Milne invented Owl and Rabbit but purchased Kanga and Roo from Harrods in 1926 as inspiration for the seventh story in "Winnie-the-Pooh."

Tigger was acquired a year or so later -- just in time for Milne to write about him in "The House at Pooh Corner."


Photograph of A.A. Milne and his son Christopher

The Complete Tales and Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne: Book Cover

The real Christopher Robin came up with the name for his stuffed bear by combining the name of an actual bear at the London Zoo, "Winnie," with the name he'd given to a pet swan, Pooh.

As for the mysterious "the," Milne recounts in "Winnie-the-Pooh" that it was apparently added by Christopher Robin to help denote the fact that he considered Pooh to be a male bear, since Winnie was considered a girl's name at the time.

Celebrate Winnie-the-Pooh Turning 90

By SLJ Staff July 20, 2011The toys range in height from 4 1/2 inches (Piglet) to 25 inches (Eyeore).

They can be seen at the New York Public Library's Donnell Library Center, 20 W. 53rd St., New York, NY.

Pictures of the original animals

Winnie-the-Pooh turns 90 in just a few short weeks—and to celebrate this huge milestone on August 21, the New York Public Library (NYPL) is asking kids, parents, and educators to make birthday cards for the literary superstar.

 

The original Winnie, an 18-inch-high teddy bear from Harrods known as Edward Bear, was given to Christopher Milne by his parents on his first birthday, August 21, 1921. Winnie has been on display at NYPL with his companions since September 11, 1987 (left), and the toys have had thousands of visitors over the years. Winnie has also witnessed several marriage proposals and has even received wedding invitations, which he's had to decline. The library says the stuffed animals have moved some people to tears.

 

NYPL is asking fans to get out their pens and paper to make Winnie a card. Birthday cards-which will not be returned-can be dropped off at the Children's Center at 42nd Street or mailed to the Winnie-the-Pooh, c/o Children's Center at 42nd Street, the New York Public Library, 476 Fifth Avenue, Room 84, New York, NY 10018. Fans can also send Winnie an electronic message through the comment box.

Those in the New York City tri-state area are invited to make birthday cards for Winnie at the library's August 9 craft program. Also, on August 20, 2011, the Children's Center will host a party to celebrate Winnie's 90th birthday-and everyone is invited to take part in the festivities and give Winnie their best wishes.

 

Winnie the Pooh

 

Christopher Robin isn't the only one who played with the toys.

The family dog loved them, as well, which apparently accounts for their rather well-worn appearance.

In fact, the dog reportedly chewed the original Piglet to bits, so the Milnes replaced him with another of like size and character. Baby Roo was lost in an apple orchard during the 1930s.

Wednesday, October 10, 2001

By Karen MacPherson, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

One day in August 1921, Daphne Milne went to Harrods, the famous London department store, to select a gift for her son's first birthday. After some deliberation, she chose a stuffed bear. Made of golden mohair, he was a sturdy fellow with a prominent black nose, shining glass eyes, and movable arms and legs. The bear was an instant hit. Christopher Robin quickly became inseparable from his bear, naming him Winnie-the-Pooh and endowing him with human thoughts and feelings that often echoed his own.  Several years later, this special relationship was immortalized when Christopher Robin's father, writer A.A. Milne, published "Winnie-the-Pooh" on Oct. 14, 1926.

 

Now, as this classic book celebrates its 75th birthday, it's clear that the bear that once was simply a playfellow for a lonely only child is firmly ensconced as one of the most beloved characters in children's literature.

 

Much of Pooh's enduring popularity is due to A.A. Milne's deft, lighthearted writing in "Winnie-the-Pooh" and its sequel, "The House at Pooh Corner," published in 1928. Generations of readers around the world have been won over by Milne's ability to create characters that touch the hearts of children and adults, as well as the charming line drawings by E.H. Shepard.

 

Of the hundreds of children's books published in 1926, only five -- including "Winnie-the-Pooh" -- have stayed in print since then, noted Anita Silvey, author of "Children's Books and Their Creators."  "For a novel to stay in print for children for 75 years is simply extraordinary. Only the 'rarest kind of best' do," Silvey said, referring to a quote by Walter de la Mare that "only the rarest kind of best is good enough for the young." The other four books are: "Dr. Doolittle's Caravan" by Hugh Lofting, "Smoky the Cowhorse" by Will James, "Bambi" by Felix Salten and "Abe Lincoln Grows Up" by Carl Sandburg.

 

Silvey noted that one reason for the abiding success of "Winnie-the-Pooh" is that Milne's characters are "so true to life. I have had people in my life that I refer to as 'Eyeores,' and other people know just what I am talking about.

 

"There's also the brilliant facility of Milne's language and the felicitous collaboration of author and artist," Silvey added. "What isn't there in the text is there in the art. They really play off of each other."

Unfortunately for Pooh purists, however, part of the lasting fame of Milne's "silly old Bear" must be attributed to the Walt Disney Studios. Disney himself bought the rights to the bear and his friends in the 1960s. In the pantheon of Disney animated characters, Pooh is second only to Mickey Mouse in popularity.

The Disney Pooh is rounder, more golden and -- some think -- far less interesting than his Milne-Shepard counterpart.

 

But the Disney Pooh, star of several animated movies, numerous videos and a TV series, has proved highly marketable. He and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood have inspired a host of commercial products from toys to linens to clothes to furniture. There also is a separate smaller line of products, also licensed by Disney, that relies on the Shepard images of Pooh and his friends.  While "Winnie-the-Pooh" and "The House at Pooh Corner" brought riches and fame to the Milne family, the books also brought pain.

 

Christopher Milne spent much of his adult life attempting to come to terms with the portrait of himself in the "Pooh" books. Father and son, so close during Christopher's childhood, drifted apart. By the time he died in 1996, however, Christopher Milne had vented his feelings in four elegantly written autobiographical volumes and finally had found peace in his life.

 

A.A. Milne also came to resent his tales about the "Bear of Little Brain." For Milne, the books represented a small part of his vast literary output over the years, most of it for adults. Of all of Milne's writing, however, it is the "Pooh" books for which he will be remembered.  All of this, however, is a long way from the day in December 1925 when Milne, desperately casting about for an idea for a newspaper Christmas story, was inspired to write about his son's beloved bear.

 

Milne had already written about Pooh in a poem titled "Teddy Bear." It was among the many rhymes in "When We Were Very Young," Milne's first book for children. Published in 1924, it was immediately popular with critics and readers, who clamored for more children's books from Milne.  Milne's first story about Pooh was published to great fanfare in the Dec. 24, 1925, edition of the London Evening News.

 

Milne introduces Pooh as he is "coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin." In that first story, Milne mixes conversations with Christopher Robin with a tale of the hapless Pooh's efforts to steal honey from some bees.

 

At the end, Milne promises Christopher Robin that there will be other tales "about Piglet and Rabbit and all of you." And so Milne spent much of the next year writing nine more stories, filled with "woozles," "heffalumps" and an "expotition" to the North Pole.

 

The stories are set in the woods surrounding Cotchford Farm, the Milne family's country residence. Shepard visited there in that spring, sketching the toys and the woods as Milne completed the stories.

 

Finally, on Oct. 14, 1926, "Winnie-the-Pooh" was published in London. Like today's "Harry Potter" books, "Winnie-the-Pooh" owed much of its initial popularity to adults, who delighted in reading Milne's witty wordplay and viewing Shepard's depiction of a simpler time of life.  A year later, Milne published another book of children's verse, "Now We Are Six." Then, in 1928, "The House at Pooh Corner" was published, again to great acclaim. As he wrote "The House at Pooh Corner," however, Milne came to a momentous decision: There would be no more "Pooh" books. Christopher Robin was growing up and thinking of school and other things far beyond the nursery world of his stuffed playmates.  Milne spent the next 30 years writing plays, poetry and other literary entertainment for adults. Yet he could never shake off Pooh's rotund shadow, something that made him increasingly bitter. He died Jan. 31, 1956.

 

"The gifts you have are sometimes not the gifts you want to have," Silvey said. "That's probably the case with Milne."  While there will be no more "Pooh" books, Milne ensured that the world in which the bear and his friends live will never end. As he writes at the end of "The House At Pooh Corner": "...wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing."

 

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