Most fictional stories are inspired by events or people in the author’s life. An example are the Winnie-the-Pooh stories by Alan Alexander Milne, better known as A. A. Milne. His son, Christopher Robin, had a menagerie of toy animals. His bear purchased at Harrods in London came with the name of Edward, but Christopher Robin changed it to Winnie-the-Pooh. The name Winnie-the-Pooh has a story of its own. During WWI a black bear named Winnie lived at the London Zoo and Christopher Robin loved to visit the bear. Pooh was the name of a swan he saw while on vacation. He combined the names of these two animals and renamed his beloved toy bear Winnie-the-Pooh. Christopher Robin also had toys named Roo, Tigger, Eeyore, Kanga, and Piglet. These original toys, except Roo who was lost in an apple orchid in 1932, along with the bear Winnie-the-Pooh are on display at the New York City Library in the United States. Milne’s stories also include a character named Owl and one named Rabbit; Christopher Robin never had toy animals for these two characters. Even the fictional location for the stores, The Hundred Acre Wood, was fashioned after the Ashdown Forest in the English county of East Sussex.
In 1925 Milne, a popular English author, had his first story that included Winnie-the-Pooh published in The Evening News. The story was titled The Wrong Sort of Bees. The next year he published a volume of stories titled Winnie-the-Pooh which was illustrated by E. H. Shepard. This was followed by The House at Pooh Corner in 1928. The stories not only featured Christopher Robin’s toys, but also a boy named Christopher Robin. With these stories Winnie-the-Pooh became a honey-loving bear that grew on children and adults with affection. The stories have been translated into over 50 languages and are considered classic children’s stories today.
In the 1930s, Stephen Slesinger bought the rights to Winnie-the-Pooh from Milne. Slesinger created a plush bear dressed in a red T-shirt which immediately became a favorite toy of millions. In the 1960s, Disney bought the rights to the Winnie-the-Pooh story characters and made some obvious changes. The hyphen was dropped from the famous bears name. The original illustrations by E. H. Shepard were changed too. Disney released featurettes based on Milne’s original stories, followed by animated movies, and several television series. Pooh is a popular character today at the Disney Parks.
Merchandise based on the Pooh book characters can be purchased online and in various stores.
January 18 is National Winne-the-Pooh Day so treat yourself to one of the beloved bear stories or one of the movies about Pooh Bear. If a trip fits into your schedule, a visit to the New York City Library is an option. You can also visit Pooh Corner in Hartfield, East Sussex, England, or visit Ashdown Forest there. How ever you decide to celebrate the day, you won’t regret remembering this beloved bear.
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