Happy Winnie the Pooh Day! Growing up, I loved A. A. Milne’s famous creation enough to have homemade stuffed versions of Pooh and several of his friends. I was not alone in my fascination. This iconic bear is widely appreciated among both children and adults all over the world. The evolution of this honey-lover, however, causes him to mean something different to each generation.
My Winnie came from the Disney TV series of the 80s and 90s; my mom remembered Disney’s early forays into the Hundred Acre Woods in the 60s and 70s; and my grandmother thought of Milne’s children’s books from before World War I. Despite Pooh’s changing forms over time, he is able to touch the hearts of children everywhere.
When Milne began writing a children’s book, he did not expect for it to take off in mainstream culture like it did. Milne also wrote a detective novel titled The Red House Mystery, several plays, and some humor pieces for a magazine called Punch. However, Milne’s fame with Winnie the Pooh overshadowed his other, more adult, works.
Pooh’s popularity might have been because of Milne’s close connection to the story. Milne first came up with the idea for the Hundred Acre Woods and its inhabitants for his son, Christopher Robin Milne, and he even featured his son as a primary character in the story. Though Owl and Rabbit were inventions of Milne’s imagination, many of the other characters were based on the stuffed animals that his son played with and loved. Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Kanga, Roo, and Eeyore were all real, and they only came to life through a father’s affections. All of these toys, except for Roo, can be visited at the New York Public Library.
If you were raised with Winnie the Pooh, celebrate A. A. Milne’s birthday today, and know that your enthusiasm is what keeps Pooh Bear alive for the next generation.