Today would be A. A. Milne’s 135th birthday. And, if you’re unfamiliar with Milne’s name, you certainly know his stories.
He is the creator of Winnie-the-Pooh, Tigger, Rabbit, and the other denizens of Hundred Acre Wood (except for Gopher—Disney animators sketched him into existence.)
So in celebration of Milne’s birthday and his timeless tales, here are five fun facts about Winnie-the-Pooh.
1. Most young readers are familiar with with Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh and House on Pooh Corner, but neither book features Pooh’s first appearance.
You can find that in When We Were Very Young, a collection of Milne’s poetry for children. However, he was named Mr. Edward Bear, not Winnie, at the time.
The stuffed bear would acquire the Winnie moniker later, borrowed from a black bear at the London Zoo.
2. Almost all of Pooh’s neighbors are based upon toys owned by Milne’s son, whose name is—you guessed it—Christopher Robin.
Tigger, Eeyore, Kanga, Piglet, and Pooh are still around today. In fact, kids can visit Pooh at the Main Branch of New York Public Library. Meanwhile, Roo was lost in Ashdown Forest, the real-life inspiration for the Hundred-Acre Wood, a long time ago.
Milne created Rabbit and Owl wholesale without a stuffed muse.
3. We’re all accustomed to Disney’s The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh as a single film, but that’s not how it was originally made.
Walt Disney was concerned that American audiences weren’t familiar enough with Pooh and friends; so, instead of making a feature-length film, the studio made three shorts—Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, and Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too.
The three shorts (along with some interstitial animation) were cobbled together later to make the film we all know and love.
4. It’s difficult to imagine someone disliking Winnie-the-Pooh, but the books were not universally beloved on publication.
Dorothy Parker—under her nom de plume, Constant Reader—found the books overly cute and saccharine, though she didn’t phrase it so politely. Instead, she said The House at Pooh Corner made her want to “[fwow] up.”
5. Speaking of critics, Christopher Robin—the real one, Milne’s sons—didn’t care for the Pooh books either.
His classmates would tease him by quoting a poem from When We Were Very Young.
They’d mock him with “Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares! Christopher Robin is saying his prayers,” until he came to resent the books.
Here’s hoping Christopher Robin will forgive us if we disagree with him. We can’t get enough of the silly old bear, and you can always come to us if you want to borrow one of Winnie-the-Pooh’s books or films.