Winnie the Pooh Day

Today is known as Winnie the Pooh Day! One of my absolute favourite characters since I was a little girl and will remain that way for the rest of my life. I have so many memories of Winnie the Pooh. From storybooks, tv shows, movies and so much more!

What I think is beautiful about Winnie the Pooh; is the way in which he was created. The story behind his existence is an interesting one and the background of the family he originated from is also incredible.

A.A.Milne is the creator of Winnie the Pooh, but not without the help of his son, Christopher Robin Milne. Christopher owned an array of stuffed animals, with his favourite being a stuffed bear which he has named Edward Bear (later to be changed to Winnie the Pooh). The famous bear had his debut in the form of a poem, which was published in Punch Magazine in 1924 and was titled ‘Teddy Bear’…

A bear, however hard he tries,
Grows tubby without exercise.
Our Teddy Bear is short and fat,
Which is not to be wondered at;
He gets what exercise he can
By falling off the ottoman,
But generally seems to lack
The energy to clamber back.

Now tubbiness is just the thing
Which gets a fellow wondering;
And Teddy worried lots about
The fact that he was rather stout.
He thought: “If only I were thin!
But how does anyone begin?”
He thought: “It really isn’t fair
To grudge me exercise and air.”

For many weeks he pressed in vain
His nose against the window-pane,
And envied those who walked about
Reducing their unwanted stout.
None of the people he could see
“Is quite” (he said) “as fat as me!”
Then with a still more moving sigh,
“I mean” (he said) “as fat as I!”

Now Teddy, as was only right,
Slept in the ottoman at night,
And with him crowded in as well
More animals than I can tell;
Not only these, but books and things,
Such as a kind relation brings –
Old tales of “Once upon a time”,
And history retold in rhyme.

One night it happened that he took
A peep at an old picture-book,
Wherein he came across by chance
The picture of a King of France
(A stoutish man) and, down below,
These words: “King Louis So and So,
Nicknamed ‘The Handsome!’ ” There he sat,
And (think of it) the man was fat!

Our bear rejoiced like anything
To read about this famous King,
Nicknamed the “Handsome.” Not a doubt
The man was definitely stout.
Why then, a bear (for all his tub)
Might yet be named “The Handsome Cub!”

“Might yet be named.” Or did he mean
That years ago he “might have been”?
For now he felt a slight misgiving:
“Is Louis So and So still living?
Fashions in beauty have a way
Of altering from day to day.
Is ‘Handsome Louis’ with us yet?
Unfortunately I forget.”

Next morning (nose to window-pane)
The doubt occurred to him again.
One question hammered in his head:
“Is he alive or is he dead?”
Thus, nose to pane, he pondered; but
The lattice window, loosely shut,
Swung open. With one startled “Oh!”
Our Teddy disappeared below.

There happened to be passing by
A plump man with a twinkling eye,
Who, seeing Teddy in the street,
Raised him politely on his feet,
And murmured kindly in his ear
Soft words of comfort and of cheer:
“Well, well!” “Allow me!” “Not at all.”
“Tut-tut!” A very nasty fall.”

Our Teddy answered not a word;
It’s doubtful if he even heard.
Our bear could only look and look:
The stout man in the picture-book!
That “handsome” King – could this be he,
This man of adiposity?
“Impossible,” he thought. “But still,
No harm in asking. Yes, I will!”

“Are you,” he said, “by any chance
His Majesty the King of France?”
The other answered, “I am that,”
Bowed stiffly, and removed his hat;
Then said, “Excuse me,” with an air
“But is it Mr. Edward Bear?”
And Teddy, bending very low,
Replied politely, “Even so!”

They stood beneath the window there,
The King and Mr. Edward Bear,
And, handsome, if a trifle fat,
Talked carelessly of this and that …
Then said His Majesty, “Well, well,
I must get on,” and rang the bell.
“Your bear, I think,” he smiled. “Good-day!”
And turned, and went upon his way.

A bear, however hard he tries,
Grows tubby without exercise.
Our Teddy Bear is short and fat,
Which is not to be wondered at.
But do you think it worries him
To know that he is far from slim?
No, just the other way about –
He’s proud of being short and stout.

This is such a great poem, one that certainly made me smile. I love knowing that this was about Winnie the Pooh, although under a different name! I can picture Winnie the Pooh when reading this and it matches his description in the books. He is known for his tubby belly and curious personality.

So, where did the name Winnie the Pooh from?

An American black bear was bought from a hunter by lieutenant Harry Colebourn whilst he was on his way to England during WW1. The bear was later given to London Zoo where he remained for the rest of his life.

A.A. Milne and his wife Dorothy would take Christopher Robin to London Zoo to see the bear. The bear was named after the place in which lieutenant Harry was from; Winnipeg Canada.

Christopher Robin loved visiting Winnie and therefore changed the name of his beloved Edward Bear, to Winnie the Pooh. It is said that ‘Pooh’ was added to the name due to a Swan called Pooh that Christopher met on holiday.

Winnie the Pooh’s home in The Hundred Acre Wood was based on Ashdown Forest in East Sussex. This forest used to be a deer hunting forest, but is now open to the public and is used mainly for hiking and taking in the beautiful countryside views. There are many trails mapped out for hiking and you may come across some familiar-looking places!

How many original Winnie the Pooh stories are there?

There are just two stories of Winnie the Pooh by A.A Milne. The first was published in 1926 and is called ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ and the second came in 1928 and is called ‘The House on Pooh Corner’.

There was a collection of nursery rhymes published in 1927 called ‘Now We Are Six’ and an older collection called ‘When We Were Very Young’, both of which include poems about Winnie the Pooh. Therefore there are four books in total in regards to the Winnie the Pooh collection.

However, these are not the only works by A.A.Milne to have been published. By the early 1920’s Milne had published 18 plays and three novels, including The Red House Mystery (1922) and also wrote two novels about the war, Peace With Honor (1934) and War With Honor (1940).

Characters, Illustrations and Television

Christopher Robin took the spotlight in the Winnie the Pooh collection along with his stuffed bear and his other stuffed animals, Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga and Roo! Owl and Rabbit were not based on Christopher Robins stuffed animals.

The books were illustrated by the amazing E.H Shepherd, who created a beautiful image for the much-loved bear.

I remember the TV show of Winnie the Pooh, which originally began in 1977, but was still very well-known and much-loved in the 90s when I was born. It was created by Walt Disney and in my opinion, this was the best TV version of the famous character.

It is safe to say that Winnie The Pooh will forever have a huge place in my heart and I am sure many others would say the same! I will pass down my Winnie The Pooh storybook collection to my future children and be sure to introduce them to the wonderful original TV series as well as the newest movies, Goodbye Christopher Robin (2017) and Christopher Robin (2018)!

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