Winnie-the-Pooh: The Story from Our Childhoods

Posted on by Hayley Peters

"Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart."

Winnie-the-Pooh; the bear with "very little brain," a big appetite for honey and an even bigger place in our hearts. The lovable characters from A.A. Milnes' classic collection of children's stories have brought comfort and joy to many generations for over 89 years. The much adored Pooh, easily identifiable by his letterbox red top and protruding, yellow belly, is never too far from mischief and adventure in Hundred Acre Wood, alongside Christopher Robin, Piglet, Kanga and Roo, Tigger, Rabbit, Owl and who can forget poor Eeyore, with the grey cloud that constantly hangs over him. 

"One day when he was out walking, he came to an open place in the middle of the forest, and in the middle of this place was a large oak tree, and, from the top of the tree, there came a loud buzzing-noise. Winnie-the-Pooh sat down at the foot of the tree, put his head between his paws, and began to think. First of all he said to himself: That buzzing-noise means something. You don't get a buzzing-noise like that, just buzzing and buzzing, without its meaning something. If there's a buzzing-noise, somebody's making a buzzing-noise, and the only reason for making a buzzing noise that I know of is because you're a bee. Then he thought another long time, and said: 'And the only reason for being a bee that I know of is making honey.' And then he got up, and said: 'And the only reason for making honey is so as I can eat it.' So he began to climb the tree." (Winnie-the-Pooh, A.A. Milne).

The origin of this very famous bear dates as far back as 1914 at the beginning of World War 1. It was during the first World War that Harry Colebourn, a Canadian Lieutenant from Winnipeg, bought a black bear cub for twenty pounds from a hunter and named the bear Winnie. The bear became a mascot for Colebourn's brigade, but when they were sent to fight on the French battlefields, Colebourne made the decision to place Winnie in the London Zoo.

A.A. Milne and his son Christopher often visited the zoo and, after several visits, Winnie soon became Christopher's favourite animal; so much so, that he even spent time with Winnie in the enclosure. These encounters offered Christopher the inspiration to name his stuffed teddy bear Winnie; the name Pooh, on the other hand, came from a swan. However, Christopher's teddy did in fact have an identity beforehand. The bear was bought from Harrods by Daphne Milne as a birthday gift to her son and came with the name tag: Edward Bear. This generic name was soon  changed by Christopher, to a name that would live within the pages of children's literature for years and years to come.

Fascinated by his son's remarkable friendship with a wild Canadian bear, A.A. Milne put pen to paper and began to write a series of books starring Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh who lived in Hundred Acre Wood; the setting based on Ashdown Forest, which surrounded Milne's country home in Sussex. Winnie-the-Pooh's friends including, Tigger,  Piglet and Rabbit were inspired by the many other stuffed toys Christopher Milne treasured. 

The adventures of Pooh and his friends have been brought to life once more in the  film adaption: Christopher Robin, although, there's no guarantee that you won't be wiping away the odd tear while watching it. 











 Cover image & product images: John Lewis