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The History of Winnie the Pooh

by Erich Martin

Jan 18, 2020

Parinya Suwanitch | Dreamstime.com

Age Specific / Adult Children

Winnie the Pooh is everyone’s favorite stuffed bear for a reason. The little guy has a heart of gold and just seems to want to eat honey and spend time with his friends. Honestly, I can relate.


Winnie the Pooh was not originally from animated cartoons or a character in a book: The Winnie the Pooh we all know and love began as a character in stories told between father and son.


A.A. Milne, a British author, used a real-life bear named Winnie as the basis for his character. Milne’s son, Christopher Robin, named his stuffed animals, including a familiar bear, before the characters became ubiquitous in Disney fandom.


The history of the actual bear Milne and Christopher Robin got to know at the zoo has a comprehensive breakdown on History.com. This site details the bear’s life before coming to the zoo and becoming known by Christopher Robin. When Christopher Robin would visit Winnie, he would feed the bear “spoonfuls of condensed milk in between big, furry hugs.” After meeting the real bear, Christopher Robin quickly changed the name of his stuffed bear from Edward to Winnie.


Inspired by his son’s relationship with the bear, Milne published the first book featuring Winnie the Pooh in 1924 in a book of children’s poetry. Winnie the Pooh released in 1926, giving a true home to the character. In 1928, Milne published The House on Pooh Lane, which included more stories about Pooh, Christopher Robin and their friends in the Hundred Acre Woods.


In 1930, Milne assigned rights to merchandise the character to Stephen Slesinger. Thirty-one years later, in 1961, Slesinger assigned those rights to the Walt Disney Company. The following decades would result in litigation and arguments over who actually owned the character. A court ruling later decided Disney was the true owner of the little bear and his pals.


Disney went right to work and released the first feature starring Winnie the Pooh. In 1966, Disney released the theatrical short Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree. Between 1977 and 2018, Pooh featured in six feature-length films. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977), The Tigger Movie (2000), Piglet’s Big Movie (2003), Pooh’s Heffalump Movie (2005), Winnie the Pooh (2011) and Christopher Robin (2018) gave Pooh a home on the big screen while many more short features fleshed out the characters.


Winnie the Pooh is a timeless character. He is pathetic and nearly helpless, but at the end of the day, cares deeply about his friends, making him an endearing character for children of all ages.


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