The Many Lives of Winnie the Pooh

By: Steve Collins

If you came of age watching Disney, there's a good chance watching Winnie the Pooh was a large part of it. Disney has turned Winnie the Pooh into one of its most popular features, with many different direct-to-video featurettes, an animated television series as well as three feature length films. Children and adults alike have enjoyed such fare as The Tigger Movie, Piglet's Big Move and Pooh's Heffalump Movie, but you may not be aware of the rich history behind them, and the person responsible for it all.

Winnie the Pooh was the doing of British author A. A. Milne. Named after the stuffed teddy bear owned by his son, Christopher Robin Milne, Pooh?s actual name was Edward Bear. The first chapter of what would one day be the first book of Pooh was commissioned by the London's Evening News for its December issue in 1925. At the time, Milne was already a prolific writer who had succeeded in creating several notable works. He was a playwright, a poet, and a novelist and his subsequent fame regarding the Pooh stories would always be a source of irritation to him.

The physical Pooh, owned by Christopher Robin Milne, was named after a bear named Winnipeg that lived at the London Zoo, and Pooh, a swan that they had encountered over the holidays. The first book that mentions Pooh, titled When We Were Very Young, explains that Pooh's arms were so stiff that he could not use them to swat away flies; instead he needed to blow them away, resulting in the "pooh" sound and his subsequent nickname.

The Hundred Acre Wood that dominates the Winnie the Pooh books is most likely based on Ashdown Forest in East Sussex England. This was where Milne lived and his son grew up, and the name of the forest itself is much like that of the Five Hundred Acre Wood, which is close to Ashdown Forest.

The first Winnie the Pooh book was published in 1925 and was titled simply Winnie the Pooh. This book introduces many of the characters filmgoers are now familiar with, including the toy animals of Pooh, Piglet, and Eeyore, as well as the live animals of Owl and Rabbit. Latter in the Pooh adventure, Kanga, a mother toy kangaroo and her baby Roo are introduced as well. While most of the stories are original, some had been previously published in the Evening News and some poetry works. Tigger would not be introduced until the second book, House at Pooh Corner.

There is a wealth of information to learn about Winnie the Pooh, and the animated features are just the tip of the ice berg. Take a look and see what other sources of Pooh lore you can learn!

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Steve Collins is an Author and Journalist based in California. A huge Disney fan, he uses the Disney Movie Club to complete his collection. Read his reviews about the movies he purchases at the Disney Movie Club here.

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