How Did the Name of Winnie-the-Pooh Come About?
How Did the Name of Winnie-the-Pooh Come About? English author A.A. Milne named the character Winnie-the-Pooh after a teddy bear owned by his son, Christopher Robin Milne, who based the name “Winnie” on a real Canadian black bear named Winnipeg that he often visited at the London Zoo. The “Pooh” part of the name is believed to have been based on a swan of that name that he met while on vacation.
Since so many of the characters and names in the Winnie-the-Pooh stories are based on real objects and animals, you may be wondering if there’s really a Hundred Acre Wood — the magical land Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends call home. Believe it or not, there is!
The Hundred Acre Wood is based on a real place: Ashdown Forest in Sussex, England. Located just 30 miles south of London, Ashdown Forest is a quiet, peaceful landscape marked by heather and silver birch with hilltop clumps of pine trees. The Hundred Acre Wood is based specifically on an area of Ashdown Forest known as the “Five Hundred Acre Wood.” People still visit Ashdown Forest to walk the areas featured in Winnie-the-Pooh stories.
Milne’s Pooh stories have been translated into nearly every language, including Latin. In fact, Alexander Lenard’s Latin translation, Winnie ille Pu, became the only Latin book ever to be featured on The New York Times Best Sellers List. Milne based Winnie-the-Pooh on a teddy bear (originally named Edward Bear) owned by his son, Christopher Robin Milne, who was the basis for the character Christopher Robin. The original teddy bear can be seen today at the New York Public Library in New York City.
Many of the other characters, such as Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger, Kanga, and Roo, were also based on other stuffed animals owned by his son. Other characters, such as Rabbit and Owl, were based on animals that lived near Milne’s country home in England.
The first collection of stories about Winnie-the-Pooh — also called “Pooh Bear” or sometimes just “Pooh” — was featured in 1926 followed by the 1928 collection of stories called The House at Pooh Corner. Milne also included a poem about the bear in the children’s verse book When We Were Very Young (1924) and many more in Now We Are Six (1927). All four volumes were illustrated by E. H. Shepard.
Many years after the Winnie-the-Pooh stories were first published; they became favorites of Walt Disney’s young daughters. Disney brought Winnie-the-Pooh to film for the first time in 1966. After several feature films, Winnie-the-Pooh has become the most popular Disney character ever.