What Winnie the Pooh Never Knew
I have always been a fan of the bear who loves honey (or as he calls it “hunny.”) Winnie the Pooh, both in book and movie form, has entertained me since I was a child. The entire cast of characters in the Hundred Acre Wood have enchanted children for decades.
Written by A.A. Milne (1882-1956), the Pooh books overshadowed all of his work up to that point. I was unaware that he had also written novels, plays, and nonfiction for adults. His children’s stories were based on his son, Christopher Robin Millne, and his stuffed animals, centering on his teddy bear, Edward. Edward was later renamed Winnie-the-Pooh after the black bear, Winnipeg, who was the World War I mascot left to the London Zoo.
The rest of the cast of characters are based on Christopher Robin’s stuffed animal collection with the exception of two. The two friends of Pooh who were created entirely from Milne’s imagination, and not based on stuffed animals in his son’s room, were Rabbit and Owl. The originals are on display at the Main Branch of the New York Pulic Library.
Winnie-the-Pooh was originally published in 1926, followed by The House at Pooh Corner (1928). The collection The World of Pooh won the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1958. They were illustrated by E. H. Shepherd.
His success as a children’s author was annoying to Mr. Milne who had always written what he pleased and had made a solid reputation for himself as a playwright. Once his children’s books became popular, critics saw adult characters in his plays as Christopher Robin grown up.
Rights to Winnie-the-Pooh and company were sold to Disney who produced the animated films. (Boy did they nail Pooh’s voice and Eeyore’s too!) Merchandising rights have grown and as with any successful franchise has become the source of disputes between many parties. It seems even almost 80 years later everyone still wants a piece of the bear of very little brain.
There was an authorized sequel done in 2009 called Return to the Hundred Acre Wood. It was written by David Benedictus, and though the author didn’t change any of the original characters, it was not greeted warmly by the Pooh-loving public.