One of the most beloved children’s book characters in recent memory, Winnie the Pooh was conceived by A.A. Milne, a British author and playwright. Winnie the Pooh Day is celebrated on January 18 commemorating Milne’s January 18, 1882, birthday.
In 1921, as a first-birthday present, Christopher Robin Milne received a small stuffed bear, which had been purchased at Harrods in London. Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga, Roo and Tigger soon joined Winnie the Pooh as Christopher’s playmates and became the inspiration for the children’s classics When We Were Very Young (1924), Winnie the Pooh (1926), Now We Are Six (1927) and The House at Pooh Corner (1928), written by his father, A.A. Milne, and illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard. Brought to the United States in 1947, the toys remained with the American publisher E.P. Dutton until 1987, when they were donated to The New York Public Library.
Anyone can visit Winnie the Pooh and his friends. Every year thousands of children and their parents come to see them in their grand new quarters in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. Pooh and his friends are as happy as when they lived in the Hundred Acre Wood 🙂
Pooh was purchased at Harrods department store in London and given by A.A. Milne to his son Christopher Robin on his first birthday, August 21, 1921. He was called Edward (proper form of Teddy) Bear at the time.
The name of Winnie the Pooh came from Christopher Robin, from a combination of the names of a real bear and a pet swan. During the 1920s there was a black bear named Winnie in the London Zoo who had been the mascot for the Winnipeg regiment of the Canadian army. Pooh was the name of a swan in When We Were Very Young. The name Winnie the Pooh first appeared in print in a Christmas story published in The Evening News on Christmas Eve 1925. The piece was based on a bedtime story read by A.A. Milne to his son, Christopher Robin.
The rest of the toys were received as gifts by Christopher Robin between 1920 and 1928. Not only Christopher Robin played with the toys; so, apparently, did the family dog, which may have contributed to their well-loved appearance 🙂 The baby kangaroo, Roo, was lost in an apple orchard during the 1930s. Owl and Rabbit were brought to life to join Pooh and friends by Milne and illustrator Ernest H. Shepard. Winnie the Pooh had adventures with Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, Owl, Rabbit, and Tigger in the Hundred Aker, or Acre, Wood (based on the Ashdown Forest in southern England, located near the Milne family home).
E.H. Shepard and A.A. Milne shared a mutual colleague in English humourist E.V. Lucas, who believed the former would be perfect for the tricky task of bringing Milne’s fantasy world to life in delicate drawings. But Milne was reluctant to hire a political cartoonist, so Shepard took the initiative. As recounted by Milne’s old neighbour, Laurence Irving, Shepard wandered Ashdown Forest, the inspiration for Milne’s mythical woods, and created a portfolio of sketches. Then he turned up unannounced at Milne’s home, where he handed over his portfolio to Milne and won his approval.
For nearly 30 years before Walt Disney began animating the bear, the American producer Stephen Slesinger acquired Pooh’s merchandising rights for the U.S. and Canada. The red t-shirt that is now a Pooh signature was drawn in 1932 for an RCA Victor picture record. By the 1940s, bears donning the red top were being produced. When his widow, Shirley Slesinger Lasswell, licensed Pooh merchandising to Disney in 1961, the animators decided to keep the look.
In 1961, Walt Disney also purchased the motion picture rights from A.A. Milne’s widow, Daphne, and so began a brand that continues to thrive for his company. Disney artists first animated Pooh on 4 February 1966 for Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, a special cartoon featurette and the studio’s first animated treatment of the famous children’s books by Milne. Tigger and Piglet were first animated in 1968 in Disney’s Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day. Eeyore first appeared in Winnie the Pooh And A Day for Eeyore (1983).
In 1977, a trio of Winnie the Pooh cartoon shorts made up Pooh’s first theatrical release The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. The 1980s brought two television shows, Welcome to Pooh Corner and The New Adventures of Winnie The Pooh. Then the 2000s offered The Tigger Movie (2000), Piglet’s Big Movie (2003), Pooh’s Heffalump Movie (2005) and the CGI series My Friends Tigger & Pooh. Little bears and friends are going to watch all the movies today!
There have also been a slew of straight-to-DVD releases. All this leads to merchandising profits that are said to rival Mickey Mouse’s. Forbes magazine ranks Winnie the Pooh as the second most valuable character with $5.6 billion in global retail sales. Mickey is first with $5.8 billion.
Made in the style of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, 2011’s Winnie the Pooh utilized traditional hand drawn animation and was staged within the pages of a book. It also contained seven original songs written by Robert Lopez and his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez, the writing team that would go on to pen Frozen‘s Oscar-winning song, Let It Go. The movie also featured a reprisal of the classic Winnie The Pooh theme sung by Zooey Deschanel.
Winnie the Pooh is also called Pooh, or Pooh Bear, but never, ever, just Winnie. Pooh and his friends enjoy friendship, warmth, compassion and lots of adventures! Today’s adventures are with Puffles Bear and friends 🙂
And since Pooh endlessly craves a smackerel of hunny to soothe that insatiable rumbly in his tumbly, there is hunny cake, hunny muffins and lots of cherries. It is the cherry house after all!