10 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Winnie The Pooh
Celebrate 'Winnie the Pooh Day' on January 18 with these ten fascinating facts about the world's most famous bear...
The majority of the characters in Milne's stories were based on the stuffed animals owned by his son. Christopher Robin Milne’s real teddy bear was named Winnie the Pooh, and he played with toys named Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga and Roo. Only Owl and Rabbit from the original stories were created by Milne and illustrator E.H Shepard, with Gopher being added by Disney in 1977.
In 1947 the original Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger and Kanga - known as the 'Pooh Five' - were taken on a promotional tour of the US by an American publisher. Apart from two brief visits back to the UK, they have remained stateside ever since and can now be seen exhibited beneath bullet-proof glass at the New York Public Library.
In 1998 Labour MP Gwyneth Dunwoody started a campaign to return the toys to Britain, comparing them to the Greek Elgin Marbles. But New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani struck back publically, stating he would "do anything" to keep them in the U.S. - - - - - -
The fictional Hundred Acre Wood is based on the real-life Five Hundred Acre Wood, part of Ashdown Forest in East Sussex. All the fictional places described in the stories, including Poohsticks Bridget, Roo’s Sandpit and Galleon's Lap, are based on real locations within the woods. A.A Milne's country home Cotchford Farm backed on to the northern edge of the forest, and his son Christopher played there regularly, inspiring the stories.
However, Cotchford Farm didn't remain such a happy place. In November 1969 the house was purchased by Brian Jones, fresh from being fired from The Rolling Stones, and just six months later he was found drowned at the bottom of its swimming pool. - - - - - -
Image: All about fun and games
Winnie the Pooh was the first fictional character to have their licensing rights sold overseas. In January 1930, literary agent Stephen Slesinger purchased the U.S. and Canadian right to the character, including merchandising, toys, board games, films, radio and television.
A. A. Milne was paid the princely sum of $1,000 in advance, and the promise of 66% of any income Stephen Slesinger made. Just 18 months later, Winnie the Pooh had become a $50 million-a-year business (that's around $720 million in today's money), making both Milne and Slesinger exceedingly wealthy men. - - - - - -
He may just be a silly old bear to some, but to the Disney Corporation Winnie the Pooh is a money-making juggernaut.
He remains one of the company's biggest franchises, with sales of merchandise netting them more than $3.75 billion each year. That makes Pooh second only to Mickey Mouse and the Disney Princesses in terms of popularity, and a bigger earner than the Toy Story and Frozen franchises put together. - - - - - -
In April 2006, Winnie the Pooh became one of just fifteen fictional characters to have been given their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Others awarded the honour include Mickey Mouse, Big Bird, Shrek and Kermit the Frog, but Pooh remains the only bear on the list. In your face, Yogi. - - - - - -
The worldwide popularity of A.A Milne's stories mean they've been translated into more than 50 different languages. The most successful (and bizarre) of these translations came in 1958 when Hungarian doctor Alexander Lenard released 'Winnie Ille Pu' – a version of the tale in Latin.
Releasing a children's book in a completely dead language may not seem like a great business plan, but Lenard's book became an unexpected hit. One critic described it as "the greatest book a dead language has ever known", and Time Magazine called it "a Latinist's delight, the very book that dozens of Americans, possibly even 50, have been waiting for.''
In 1960 it became the first foreign-language book to feature on the New York Times Best Seller List, and sold a remarkable 125,000 copies across 21 printings. To this day it (unsurprisingly) remains the only book written in Latin to ever make the list. - - - - - -
The magic of the Winnie the Pooh stories lies not just in A.A Milne's words, but in the timeless illustrations of E.H Shepard. And those illustrations are now worth their weight in gold.
In recent years, Shepard's original drawings have sold for huge sums at auction. The highest price came in December 2014, when an illustration showing Pooh, Christopher Robin and Piglet playing Pooh-Sticks (entitled "For a long time they looked at the river beneath them...") sold at Sotheby's for an incredible $492,727. - - - - - -
The character of Christopher Robin was based on A.A Milne's own son Christopher Robin Milne, immortalizing him in one of literature's most beloved stories. Surprisingly, the author's son was furious.
Whilst at boarding school, the real Christopher Robin suffered endless taunts and bullying because of his famous namesake.
By the time he reached his twenties, he was sick of the whole thing. "It seemed to me almost that my father had got where he was by climbing on my infant shoulders, that he had filched from me my good name and left me nothing but empty fame," he once wrote.
In his later years Milne made peace with the world-famous character, which is more than can be said for his father: A.A Milne is said to have been frustrated that for all his countless essays, novels and plays, his four short children's books were all people were interested in. - - - - - -
(Image: Sarah E. Shea, Kevin Gordon, Ann Hawkins, Janet Kawchuk, Donna Smith)
Think A.A Milne's stories are innocent tales of harmless childhood fantasy? Not according to some Canadian child psychologists.
An article published in the Canadian Medical Journal, entitled 'Pathology in the Hundred Acre Wood: a neurodevelopmental perspective on A.A. Milne', claims that each of the loveable characters in fact represents a clinical mental disorder.
It accuses Winnie the Pooh of suffering from both ADHD and OCD, whilst displaying "borderline intellectual functioning" and indulging in "poor diet, obesity and binge eating". Meanwhile, Piglet has generalized anxiety disorder, Eeyore is a victim of long-term chronic depression due to his "traumatic tail amputation", Rabbit has narcissistic personality disorder and Tigger suffers ADHD and hyperactivity. I guess we knew that last one already though. - - - - - -
Winnie the Pooh is so popular character in Poland that a Warsaw street is named for him, 'Ulica Kubusia Puchatka'. However, in 2014, Polish council officials banned him from becoming the official mascot of a children's playground.
Local Councillor Ryszard Cichy claimed "The problem with that bear is it doesn’t have a complete wardrobe. It is half naked, which is wholly inappropriate for children." Another claimed the bear "doesn’t wear underpants because it doesn’t have a sex. It’s a hermaphrodite."
With the meeting clearly descending into madness, Councillor Hanna Jachimska is reported to have then proclaimed "This is very disturbing. The author was over 60 and cut [Pooh's] testicles off with a razor blade because he had a problem with his identity."
Nobody knows who the council finally chose to become the park's official mascot, but we're guessing it wasn't that naked exhibitionist Tigger either. - - - - - -
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