A.A. Milne Publishes Winnie-the-Pooh

The touching story behind Winnie the Pooh

Christopher Robin on A.A. Milne's Lap
Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

With the first publication of the children's book Winnie-the-Pooh on October 14, 1926, the world was introduced to some of the most popular fictional characters of the twentieth century - Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, and Eeyore.

The second collection of Winnie-the-Pooh stories, The House at Pooh Corner, appeared on bookshelves just two years later and introduced the character Tigger. Since then, the books have been published worldwide in over 20 languages.

The Inspiration for Winnie the Pooh

The author of the wonderful Winnie-the-Pooh stories, A. A. Milne (Alan Alexander Milne), found his inspiration for these stories in his son and his son's stuffed animals.

The little boy who talks to the animals in the Winnie-the-Pooh stories is called Christopher Robin, which is the name of A. A. Milne's real-life son, who was born in 1920. On August 21, 1921, the real-life Christopher Robin Milne received a stuffed bear from Harrods for his first birthday, which he named Edward Bear.

The Name "Winnie"

Although the real-life Christopher Robin loved his stuffed bear, he also fell in love with an American black bear that he often visited the London Zoo (he sometimes even went into the cage with the bear!). This bear was named "Winnie" which was short for "Winnipeg," the hometown of the man who raised the bear as a cub and later brought the bear to the zoo.

How the real-life bear's name also became the name of Christopher Robin's stuffed bear is an interesting story. As A. A. Milne states in the introduction to Winnie-the-Pooh, "Well, when Edward Bear said that he would like an exciting name all to himself, Christopher Robin said at once, without stopping to think, that he was Winnie-the-Pooh. And so he was."

The "Pooh" part of the name came from a swan of that name. Thus, the name of the famous, lazy bear in the stories became Winnie-the-Pooh even though traditionally "Winnie" is a girl's name and Winnie-the-Pooh is definitely a boy bear.

Other Characters

Many of the other characters in the Winnie-the-Pooh stories were also based on Christopher Robin's stuffed animals, including Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore, Kanga, and Roo. However, Owl and Rabbit were added without stuffed counterparts in order to round out the characters.

If so inclined, you can actually visit the stuffed animals that Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore, and Kanga were based on by visiting the Central Children's Room at the Donnell Library Center in New York. (Stuffed Roo was lost during the 1930s in an apple orchard.)

The Illustrations

While A. A. Milne hand-wrote the entire original manuscript for both books, the man who shaped the famous look and feel of these characters was Ernest H. Shepard, who drew all the illustrations for both Winnie-the-Pooh books.

To inspire him, Shepard traveled to the Hundred Acre Wood or at least its real-life counterpart, which is located in the Ashdown Forest near Hartfield in East Sussex (England).

The Disney Pooh

Shepard's drawings of the fictional Winnie-the-Pooh world and characters were how most children envisioned them until Walt Disney bought the film rights to Winnie-the-Pooh in 1961. Now in stores, people can see both the Disney-styled Pooh and the "Classic Pooh" stuffed animals and see how they differ.

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Rosenberg, Jennifer. "A.A. Milne Publishes Winnie-the-Pooh." ThoughtCo, Sep. 3, 2021, thoughtco.com/a-a-milne-publishes-winnie-the-pooh-1779269. Rosenberg, Jennifer. (2021, September 3). A.A. Milne Publishes Winnie-the-Pooh. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/a-a-milne-publishes-winnie-the-pooh-1779269 Rosenberg, Jennifer. "A.A. Milne Publishes Winnie-the-Pooh." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/a-a-milne-publishes-winnie-the-pooh-1779269 (accessed May 28, 2023).