Happy Birthday, Winnie the Pooh!

October 15, 2013 Literary Locations, Series Spotlight 11

Ernest Shepard, Winnie-the-Pooh

Yesterday (Oct. 14) was Winnie the Pooh’s birthday!  Well — sort of.  October 14, 2013 marked the 87th anniversary of the first printing of Winnie-the-Pooh.  The actual stuffed toy was given to the real Christopher Robin for his first birthday on August 21, 1921, which makes Pooh a venerable 92 years old.

Ernest Shepard, Winnie-the-Pooh

I don’t know about you, but I grew up on those books.  My mother passed her childhood copies to me, and I read them over and over.  The classic illustrations by Ernest Shepard became part of my imagination, and still bring back my childhood.

I also loved the Disney movies, which I saw in movie theaters and later on television.  I even had the “Blustery Day” record album as well as a vinyl recording of Maurice Evans reading the first chapter of Winnie-the-Pooh.  (I still have them; we copied them to cassette, then CD, and finally digital WAV files so our daughter Robin could listen to them, too.)  I wanted a stuffed Pooh very badly as a child, but was given a Smoky the Bear at the age of three, instead.*

My family is well aware of my love for Pooh.  We gave Robin a Pooh bear when she was 18 months old. I dressed her as Pooh for Halloween, several years running.  (Alas, my photos from those years haven’t been digitized yet.)  And a year or two ago, Mr. Bookwyrm gave me Pooh slippers like the ones our Robin had as a child.

Poohsticks Bridge. Photo © K. Pekar

When Robin was about 7, we took her to England for several weeks.  We visited Ashdown Forest, the real Hundred-Acre Wood, and Hartfield, the village near the Milne home.  The home is in private hands, but Poohsticks Bridge had recently been rebuilt, so of course, we had to play Poohsticks!  We also visited Pooh Corner in Hartfield, a charming Winnie-the-Pooh themed store; the building used to be the sweetshop where the real-life Christopher Robin bought a pennyworth of sweets each week. (No, our Robin isn’t named after Christopher Robin.  It’s not her real name, just a blog name to protect her privacy.)

 

Ernest Shepard, Winnie-the-Pooh postcard

Among my greatest treasures are the Pooh figurines our daughter Robin has made for me over the last several years — one or two a year, for Christmas and birthdays.  She’s done an amazing job of capturing the essence of Shepard’s drawings, as you can see.

Classic Pooh sculptures by ‘Robin’.  Photo © K. Pekar

So happy birthday (or anniversary), Winnie the Pooh!  I think it’s safe to say, our childhoods would have been very different without you.

* I can’t complain; Bear (as I unimaginatively named him) became my constant companion, accompanying me on visits to relatives, sleepovers, to camp, and eventually to college.  Decades later, I still have him, though he’s too worn and fragile now to display.

11 Responses to “Happy Birthday, Winnie the Pooh!”

  1. Greg

    I smiled when I saw this. Those stories and the Shepard illustrations are timeless, I liked them as a kid and my daughters love them too. We make up our own stories at bedtime, continuing the adventures of the gang in the Hundred acre Wood. Such a great imaginary place.

    Great idea to visit that area in England- that would be so cool. And the figurines- very nice. They look like classic merchandise if I didn’t know better.

    Love that picture at top.

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      Glad you enjoyed this, Greg! And that’s great that you and your daughters make up your own Winnie-the-Pooh stories — what fun!

      That’s Mr. Bookwyrm and a very young Robin playing Poohsticks on the bridge in the photo. It was a lovely day. Amazing to walk in the Ashdown forest — the beech trees really do look like Owl’s tree, with their smooth bark and great twisting roots.

      The top picture is one of Shepard’s original illustrations, as is the drawing of Christopher Robin coming downstairs with Pooh (“bump, bump, bump on the back of his head…”) I just love all his drawings!

  2. Rita_h

    We are Winnie the Pooh lovers in this household and my grandkids do too! Matter of fact, we have an obese cat that we adopted already fat from a shelter and named him Pooh Bear, since he is so plush and cuddly 🙂
    My kids used to wake me up at the crack of dawn when toddlers to watch Winnie the Pooh on cable tv and we met him at Disney World and he was very friendly and signed their autograph books. So thanks for bringing back happy memories of childhood, now that my kids are all grown up.

  3. Berls

    It’s hard to believe that Pooh has been around that long! He’s still such a big part of children’s lives – my step son adored Pooh when he was little (as did I – though I was all about Eeyore!). You really have some great items and how cool that you were able to visit those places. This post really made me smile, thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. readerholicnotes

    Oh, I love Winnie the Pooh. My Mom read the books to my brother and I when we were little and I have the books now and read them to my kids when they were little.

    Thank you for this post, Lark. It’s so nice to hear your experiences and all the Pooh stories!

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      I’m glad you enjoyed it! I think a lot of us grew up on these books and then passed our love of them on to our children or nieces and nephews. (Or will, for those of you who don’t have children yet.)

  5. Cheryl @ Tales of the Marvelous

    Aww, how fun! I really want to visit Ashdown Forest. And I’m very impressed by those Pooh sculptures–very nice! Did you know you can see the original toys on display at the New York Public Library? One of my favorite things on my trip to NY!

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      That is one of the top things on my list of “stuff to do in NYC” if I ever get back there! I actually spent my first six years in NY, but I don’t remember anyone taking me to see the Pooh toys, and I’ve always wanted to. But I’ve only been back to the city a few times since I left. My grandfather lived in Manhattan for a while. Since he died, I haven’t been back.

      Thank you for the compliment on Robin’s sculptures — I’ll pass it along!