You can't discuss
Teddybears without mentioning that Bear of Very Little Brain, Winnie the
Pooh. He and the other cotton-brained residents of the Hundred Aker Woods
have charmed kids for 75 years.
For their impact,
it's hard to imagine that Alan A. Milne wrote only two books about the
bear and his friends plus twobooks
of verse (some of which featured Christopher Robin).To
illustrate them, he enlisted an illustrator he knew from writing for Punch
Magazine, Ernest Shepard. Recognizing Shepard's contributions to the success
of his first book, Milne began splitting his royalties with him 80-20
instead ofjust giving him the normal illustrator's flat rate.
book's huge success, Milne got tired of writing for children. He was a
fairly successful playwright who believed his kid books to be a diversion
from his "real" career. After his second Pooh book, he announced
that it was to be his last, and stuck to that decision.
Meanwhile, his son
Christopher tired of the media attention
and being ribbed constantly in school, army, and adult life with "Hey,
where's Pooh?" and "Cwistopher Wobin is saying his pwayers"
became estranged from both father and his
literary namesake, alternately seeking anonymity and blasting both regularly
in word and print.
His father began
feeling the same way as the public continually rejected his more serious
efforts. In 1952, a few months before the stroke that eventually killed
him, though, he wrote in his memoirs, "There was an intermediate
period when any reference to Pooh was infuriating; but now such a 'nice
comfortable feeling' envelopes him that I can almost regard him impersonally
as the creation of one of my favorite authors." His funeral in
1956 was the last time Christopher would see either parent, although
his mother would live another fifteen years.
She was busy
during that time, enraging Christopher by selling his father's original
manuscripts; infuriating most of England by giving most of the original
stuffed animals to Milne's American publisher, which placed them in
a case in a New York Public Library where they reside still; and exasperating
most readers of the books by selling the movie rights to Disney, which
returned the favor in "Winnie-the-Pooh and the Honey Tree"
by turning Piglet into a gopher and giving all the characters Midwestern
came to terms with his unwelcome notoriety over the years after writing
two successful books about it. He died in April, 1996.
There really was
a Christopher Robin Milne, author Alan A. Milne's son. Through his REAL-
LIFE childhood, though, he was usually called Bill or Billy Moon. ("Moon"
because that's the closest young Billy could get to pronouncing his
own last name).
The very first Kanga
and Roo belonged to Christopher Robin's childhood friend, Anne Darlington,
who later auctioned them off to a Teddy Bear Museum in December, 1995.
Later Milne apparently got his own.
Pooh" has been translated into at least 33 languages. The
Latin version made history as the first non-English book to hit the
NY Times Bestseller List in 1960. "Winnie ille Pu" remained
there for 20 weeks.
"Back to the
house of Christopher Robin and Pooh...." Written and performed
by Kenny Loggins, "Return to Pooh Corner" was originally released
That Bear of Very
Little Brain's mindless existence awakened author Benjamin Hoff to write
about Pooh-philosophy in "The Tao of Pooh" (1982). His sequel,
"The Te of Piglet" was released in 1992.
you want to see Christopher Robin's stuffed toys?
numerous grumblings from England, Winnie, Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga,
and Tigger are displayed in the children's section of New York Public
Library's Donnell Library Center. The toys are a little worse for
wear, because the Milne family dog also apparently enjoyed playing
with them. And, most tragically, Roo was lost somewhere in an English
apple orchard in the 1930s.
Donnell Library Center
20 West 53rd Street
New York, N.Y. 10019
Phone: (212) 621-0618
to England, presumably on your way to the North Pole, and want to
see the real woods where Tigger bounced and Eeyore grouched? It's
still there, more or less, an hour from London from the Pooh Sticks
Bridge to Owl's House to the North Pole Itself. For travel information,
The British Tourist Authority
551 Fifth Avenue, Seventh Floor
New York, NY 10176
at Pooh Corner
Background stories, biographies, history, photos, timelines... this
is the best-researched and documented site we've found.
Everybody's played Pooh Sticks, a game of speed and agility. Here's
a computer simulation of the game which is definitely better than the
real thing. Play on the Internet against stuffed animals from around