A lover of children’s literature, A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh books were always in heavy rotation in my library as a child, and the cartoons played pretty much on repeat on our trusty VHS player. That being said, I never pondered much on the origins of the 1920′s series, basically assuming it was the fictional creation of some brilliant author, generations before my time.
“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like “What about lunch?” -Winnie-the-Pooh
Imagine my delight when, on a recent stroll of the New York Public Library’s Main Branch, I stumbled (literally) onto a glass case filled with the original Hundred Acre Wood’s gang, tattered and loved unconditionally by a child, just as I would expect.
“Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon.” -Winnie-the-Pooh
The child that loved this gang of characters was the author’s son, Christopher Robin (also a main character in the stories!) The story has it that the actual Christopher Robin received the stuffed bear on his first birthday, which he originally named Edward, and added his friends to the collection over his childhood years. He used to spend summers in the real Hundred Acre Wood (located in southern England), and hence switched Edward’s name to “Winnie-the-Pooh”, originating from the Winnipeg black bear, the one Christopher Robin used to visit frequently at the London Zoo. Christopher Robin’s father quickly realized that this collection of characters would make for wonderful bedtime stories, and thus, the series was born.
“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.” -Winnie-the-Pooh
Winnie-the-Pooh and his besties, Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga, and Tigger, have been living at the NYPL since 1987, and I like to believe that, minus the cuddles, they are just has happy being loved and adored by Winnie-the-Pooh fans that pay frequent visits as they were living in Christopher Robin’s home, some 90+ years ago.
What childhood literary character played an important part of your life? Share below!WHERE: Children’s Center at the NYPL Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street New York, New York COST: Free