A Brief History
On January 18, 2018, as we do every January 18th, we celebrate Winnie-the-Pooh Day, our favorite children’s books character and animated star. Of course, we celebrate Christopher Robin and all of his and Pooh’s friends as well. Why January 18th? Because the creator of Pooh and friends was AA Milne, born on January 18, 1882. A playwright and World War I veteran, Milne first wrote about Winnie in 1926 (an earlier version, Edward the Bear in 1924), a combination of his writing and illustrations by EH Shepard, work that changed Milne’s life and the lives of countless children ever since.
(See our review of the movie, Goodbye Christopher Robin, from October 27, 2017)
Alan Alexander Milne died at the age of 74 in 1956, and his son, Christopher Robin Milne (born 1920) died in 1996. Although the elder Milne had started writing poetry and children’s books because of the inspiration of his own young son, and Christopher’s plush animal toys (Winnie-the-Pooh, Kanga, Roo, Piglet, Tigger and Eeyore), and the fact that the Pooh stories made the entire family fabulously wealthy, the relationship between AA Milne and his son remained strained throughout their lives. Christopher resented being called Christopher Robin and identified as a character from a book, and refused to profit from the estate of his father. Like his father, Christopher Milne was also a war veteran (World War II), insisting on getting cleared for duty despite a physical deferment.
On the other hand, Christopher Milne really did play with the cuddly animals chronicled in the Pooh stories in a forest owned by the family called Ashdown Forest, later dubbed “The Hundred Acres Wood” in the stories. Millions of children over the 90+ years since the creation of Winnie-the-Pooh (often referred to merely as “Pooh” or “Pooh Bear”) have had their hearts touched by the stories, stories that transferred from books to television and movies. The real life stuffed animal plush toys reside today on display in the New York Public Library. Since 1966 Disney has owned the rights to Winnie and his friends, and has made millions of dollars off the merchandising and marketing of animated films and toys.
Aside from books, Winnie-the-Pooh has been adapted to film, television, theater, songs, radio, and about any possible way to present the deeply loved characters their adoring public. In 2002, Forbes Magazine named Winnie as the most valuable fictional character. Pooh Bear even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Even better, there are streets named after Winnie in Warsaw and Budapest! Not surprisingly, China found a reason in 2017 to ban Winnie-the-Pooh (because of comparisons between President Xi Jinping to Winnie on the internet) from their repressed population!
As Winnie-the-Pooh is likely the most loved children’s book character in all History, it is only right that we celebrate a day for the lovable bear. Do you love Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends? Which character is your favorite? If not, which children’s character do you love most? Let us know!
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For more information, please see…
Cohen, Nadia. The Extraordinary Life of AA Milne. Pen & Sword Books, 2018.
Milne, AA. The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh. Dutton Books, 1996.