The REAL Winnie-the-Pooh won't be found on a video, in a movie, on a T-shirt, or a lunchbox. Since 1987, the REAL Pooh and four of his best friends—Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga, and Tigger—have been living at The New York Public Library.
Long before Walt Disney turned Pooh and his pals into movie stars, Christopher Robin Milne, a very real little boy living in England, received a small stuffed bear on his first birthday. He named him Edward Bear (later renamed Winnie-the-Pooh). Following Edward came the rest of the stuffed animals, which Christopher loved and played with throughout his childhood.
One day, Christopher's father, A. A. Milne, and an artist named Ernest H. Shepard, decided that these animals, and two other imaginary friends, Owl and Rabbit, would make fine characters in a bedtime story. From that day on, Pooh and his friends have had many fanciful adventures, from Piglet's encounter with a Heffalump to Eeyore's loss of his tail. These stories have been embraced by millions of children and adult readers for more than 70 years.
Anyone can visit the real Winnie-the-Pooh and his pals. Every year thousands of children and their parents come to see them in their grand new quarters in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. Pooh and his friends are as happy as when they lived in the Hundred Acre Wood.
Fun Facts About the Real Winnie-the-Pooh and His Friends
- The curious name of Winnie-the-Pooh came from Christopher Robin, from a combination of the names of a real bear and a pet swan. During the 1920s there was a black bear named Winnie in the London Zoo who had been the mascot for the Winnipeg regiment of the Canadian army. Pooh was the name of a swan in When We Were Very Young.
- Pooh was purchased at Harrods department store in London and given by A. A. Milne to his son Christopher Robin on his first birthday, August 21, 1921. He was called Edward (proper form of Teddy) Bear at the time.
- The rest of the toys were received as gifts by Christopher Robin between 1920 and 1928.
- Not only Christopher Robin played with the toys; so, apparently, did the family dog, which may have contributed to their well-worn appearance.
- The baby kangaroo stuffed animal (named Roo) was lost in an apple orchard during the 1930s.
- Winnie-the-Pooh had adventures with Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, Owl, Rabbit, and Tigger in the Hundred Aker, or Acre, Wood (based on the Ashdown Forest in southern England, located near the Milne family home).
- Owl and Rabbit were brought to life to join Pooh and pals Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga, Roo, and Tigger, by Milne and illustrator Ernest H. Shepard.
- The stuffed animals range in height from 25" (Eeyore, the biggest) to 4 1/2" (Piglet, the smallest).
A Real Pooh Timeline
||August 21, Christopher Robin Milne born.
||August 21, 20"-high teddy bear (Winnie-the-Pooh), from Harrods in London, given to Christopher Robin Milne on his first birthday.
||When We Were Very Young published.
||Pooh first appeared in the London Evening News on Christmas Eve 1925 in a story called "The Wrong Sort of Bees."
||Now We Are Six published.
||The House at Pooh Corner published.
||Former Dutton Publishing President Elliott Macrae visits A.A. Milne at his house in Sussex, and sees the original toy animals that inspired Winnie-the-Pooh.
The real Pooh and friends tour the United States.
||The real Pooh and friends put on display at E.P. Dutton & Co. Publishers in New York City.
||The real Pooh and friends make a temporary visit back to England for an exhibition of the drawings of Ernest H. Shepard, on the occasion of the illustrator's 90th birthday.
||Winnie-the-Pooh, new edition with color illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard, published.
||The real Pooh and friends make their last trip to England to participate in the 50th birthday of Winnie-the-Pooh arranged by Methuen & Company Publishers.
||September 11, Presentation of the real Pooh and friends to The New York Public Library, where they are put on display for the public.
||The real Pooh and friends receive professional conservation treatment that includes vacuuming and assorted repairs.
||Pooh and his friends become the center of international attention when a British Member of Parliament decides they should be returned to England.
The United States and England agree that Pooh and his pals are happy and healthy on American soil, and it is unanimously decided that they will remain at The New York Public Library.