Winnie the Pooh is a beloved character that many of us associate with Walt Disney cartoons, starring Winnie and his friends in the 100-Acre Wood, but the writers and animators at Disney were not Winnie’s original creators. Winnie the Pooh Day is celebrated on January 18th to honour the character’s creator, Alan Alexander Milne (A.A. Milne), on his birthday. A. A. Milne brought Winnie to the world with a short story, “The Wrong Sort of Bees” (published in the London Evening News in 1925) and then in the first collection of Winnie the Pooh stories, “Winnie-the-Pooh” (1926).
The characters in the original stories were inspired by Milne's son, Christopher Robin Milne, and some of his favourite toys; a stuffed bear named Winnie the Pooh, a piglet, a pair of kangaroos, a tiger, and a donkey. With the exception of the baby kangaroo, Roo, all of these original toys are on display at the New York Public Library. Unfortunately, Roo was lost in the 1930s.
Christopher Milne’s stuffed bear initially went by the name of Edward, but that changed after Christopher fell in love with a popular black bear (from Canada) at the London Zoo named Winnie.
Milne’s stories about Winnie the Pooh and his friends in the 100-acre wood became immensely popular in a short amount of time and have remained so ever since.
Disney acquired the rights to the Winnie the Pooh characters and stories in 1961, with the first Winnie the Pooh cartoon short, “Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree,” released in 1966. Since then, Disney has featured Winnie the Pooh and his friends in numerous cartoons, books, merchandise, and even theme park rides.
Take some time this January 18th to spend some time with A.A. Milne’s beloved characters by reading some Winnie the Pooh stories (Disney or original works) or watching some Winnie the Pooh movies and cartoons. You could even add in some treats made with honey, Pooh’s favourite food.
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