Milne named the character Winnie-the-Pooh after a toy bear owned by his son, Christopher Robin Milne, who was the basis for the character Christopher Robin. His toys also lent their names to most of the other characters, except for Owl and Rabbit, who were probably based on real animals, and the Gopher character, who was added in the Disney version. Christopher Robin’s toy bear is now on display at the Donnell Library Center Central Children’s Room in New York.
Christopher Milne had named his toy after Winnipeg, a bear which he and his father often saw at London Zoo, and “Pooh,” a swan they had met while on holiday. The bear, called “Winnie,” was known as a gentle bear who never attacked anyone, and she was much loved for her playfulness. This is exactly what inspired Milne to write about Pooh Bear. Pooh the swan appears as a character in its own right in When We Were Very Young.
In the first chapter of Winnie-the-Pooh, Milne offers this explanation of why Winnie-the-Pooh is often called simply ‘Pooh’ : “But his arms were so stiff … they stayed up straight in the air for more than a week, and whenever a fly came and settled on his nose he had to blow it off. And I think – but I am not sure – that that is why he is always called Pooh.”
The home of the Milnes, Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, England, was the basis for the setting of the Winnie-the-Pooh stories. The name of the fictional “Hundred Acre Wood” is reminiscent of the Five Hundred Acre Wood, which lies just outside Ashdown Forest and includes some of the locations mentioned in the book, such as the Enchanted Place.
Though Charles Scribner, The New York Evening Post, and St. Nicholas Magazine published Milne’s stories with illustrations by several of the more famous American artists of the 1920s, Milne’s original version is better known to have been illustrated by E.H. Shepard. Though Shepard decorated the books published by Methuen and E.P. Dutton, he preferred to be known as a political cartoonist for London’s Punch Magazine.
Stephen Slesinger acquired US and Canadian merchandising, television, recording and other trade rights to the “Winnie-the-Pooh” from A. A. Milne in the 1930s, and developed “Winnie-the-Pooh” commercializations for more than 30 years. After Slesinger’s death in 1953, his wife, Shirley Slesinger, continued developing the character herself. In 1961, she licensed rights to Disney in exchange for royalties in the first of two agreements between Stephen Slesinger, Inc. and Disney. The same year, Daphne Milne also licensed certain rights, including motion picture rights, to Disney.
Since 1966, Disney has released numerous features starring Winnie the Pooh and related characters. Many direct-to-video featurettes have been created, as well as the theatrical feature-length films The Tigger Movie, Piglet’s Big Movie, and Pooh’s Heffalump Movie.
In December 2005, Disney announced that the Disney Channel animated television series, My Friends Tigger & Pooh, will focus on adventures had by 6-year-old Darby and the Pooh characters, with the occasional appearance from Christopher Robin.
In 2002, Kingdom Hearts was released. Kingdom Hearts was a production by Square-Enix with the cooperation of Disney. As such, Disney characters make cameo appearances as their worlds appear in the game. These include Aladdin, Belle, Simba, and Winnie the Pooh. The main character, Sora, visits the world of Winnie the Pooh in a magical book. The book initially has missing pages, and Sora must collect “Torn Pages” from other worlds to complete the book. Each torn page adds a new section to the book, and consequently a development of the storyline in that world. Each section also has a mini game which can be played any time from then onwards.
In 2006, Kingdom Hearts II was released. As a sequel, it used the same concept of “Torn Pages”, but the mini-games were changed.
His catchphrases are “Oh, bother,” and “Think, think, think.”
Pooh videos, teddy bears, and other merchandise generate substantial annual revenues for Disney. The size of Pooh stuffed toys ranges from Beanie and miniature to human-sized. In addition to the stylized Disney Pooh, Disney markets Classic Pooh merchandise which more closely resembles E.H. Shepard’s illustrations. It is estimated that Winnie the Pooh features and merchandise generate as much revenue as Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto combined.
In 1991, Stephen Slesinger, Inc. filed a lawsuit against Disney which alleged that Disney had breached their 1983 agreement by again failing to accurately report revenue from Winnie the Pooh sales. Under this agreement, Disney was to retain approximately 98% of gross worldwide revenues while the remaining 2% was to be paid to Slesinger. In addition, the suit alleged that Disney had failed to pay required royalties on all commercial exploitation of the product name. Though the Disney corporation was sanctioned by a judge for destroying millions of pages of evidence, the suit was later terminated by another judge when it was discovered that Slesinger’s investigator had rummaged through Disney’s garbage in order to retrieve the discarded evidence.
After the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, Clare Milne, Christopher Milne’s daughter, attempted to terminate any future U.S. copyrights for Stephen Slesinger, Inc. After a series of legal hearings, the federal district court found in favor of Stephen Slesinger, Inc., as did the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. On Monday, June 26, 2006, the US Supreme Court refused to hear the case, thus sustaining the Appeals Court ruling and ensuring the defeat of the suit.
On February 19, 2007, it was reported Disney lost a court case in Los Angeles which ruled their “misguided claims” to dispute the licensing agreements with Slesinger, Inc. were unjustified.
In doing so, the claims by Slesinger, Inc. can now be tackled without any argument over who owns the rights. Though the ruling was downplayed by a Disney attorney, the outcome of the case should prove a justifiably significant blow to Disney’s revenue, Winnie the Pooh having been reported to bring the company 6 billion dollars a year.
Pooh made his radio debut in 1930 in New York. Readings of various Winnie-the-Pooh stories have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in the United Kingdom with narration by Alan Bennett and also have been released as recordings.
Pooh debuted on Broadway with Sue Hastings’ Marionettes in the 1930s.
A Peek-a-pooh is a small plastic toy in a removable rubber costume. More than ten different series of these have been produced and are available from vending machines for $1.00 in the United States, £1 in the UK, $2 in Canada and ¥100 in Japan. There is also a larger form made of plastic.
1966: Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree
1968: Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day
1974: Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too!
1983: Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore
1977: The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (trilogy of the Honey Tree, Blustery Day, and Tigger Too!)
1985: Winnie the Pooh and Friends (re-release of Day for Eeyore with additional shorts)
1997: Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin
1999: Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving
2000: The Tigger Movie
2002: Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year
2003: Piglet’s Big Movie
2004: Winnie the Pooh: Springtime with Roo
2005: Pooh’s Heffalump Movie
2005: Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie
Welcome to Pooh Corner (Disney Channel, 1983-1995)
The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (ABC, 1988-1991)
The Book of Pooh (Disney Channel, 2001-2002)
My Friends Tigger & Pooh (Disney Channel, 2007-…)
Holiday TV specials
1991: Winnie the Pooh & Christmas Too!
1996: Boo! To You Too! Winnie the Pooh
1998: A Winnie the Pooh Thanksgiving
1998: Winnie the Pooh, A Valentine For You
Winnie the Pooh in the Hundred Acre Wood
Winnie the Pooh Adventures
Winnie the Pooh’s Party Games: In Search of the Treasure
Winnie the Pooh: Tigger’s Honey Hunt
Pooh & Tigger’s Hunny Safari
Winnie the Pooh Pre-School
Winnie the Pooh Kindergarten
Piglet’s Big Game
Winnie the Pooh: Rumbly Tumbly
Ready To Read With Pooh
Kingdom Hearts series
References in other media
Winnie the Pooh is such a popular character in Poland that a Warsaw street is named after him, Polish: “Ulica Kubusia Puchatka.”
In The Simpsons episode The Fat and the Furriest, Pooh appears as one of the bears scaring Homer Simpson.
In Ghostbusters 2, baby Oscar is seen wearing a Pooh shirt while being possed by Vigo the Carpathian
In The Hums of Pooh, Harold Fraser-Simson set to music several of Milne’s poems and the verses sung by Pooh in the original books.
Kenny Loggins’s 1969 song “House at Pooh Corner” is based on the story of Christopher Robin and Winnie The Pooh. In 1994, he recorded a reworking of the song titled “Return To Pooh Corner” for a children’s album bearing the same name.
Pooh, along with many other famous Disney characters, including Goofy, was featured in a double-length feature of the famous TV show “Roseanne” in 1996, in which the Conners raise enough money to buy a “Walt Disney World” vacation.
In the “sport” of Poohsticks, competitors drop sticks into a stream from a bridge and then wait to see whose stick will cross the finish line first. Though it began as a game played by Pooh and his friends in the stories, it has crossed over into the real world: a World Championship Poohsticks race takes place in Oxfordshire each year.
The Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet by Benjamin Hoff use Milne’s characters in an effort to explain Taoism in an accessible way.
Frederick Crews’ “The Pooh Perplex” and “Postmodern Pooh” both poke fun at literary theory.
In December 2000, a Canadian medical journal jokingly “diagnosed” characters in the books and films with various mental illnesses, e.g. Winnie the Pooh shows signs of obsessive compulsive disorder, Tigger shows signs of ADHD etc.
Possibly the strangest incarnation of Winnie the Pooh is in Peter David’s Star Trek: The Next Generation novel Q-Squared. The child-Q Trelane brings some Winnie the Pooh characters (Pooh, Owl and Rabbit) to life to entertain a group of primary school children in one of the Enterprise’s classrooms. Pandemonium results, with Rabbit and Owl(under Trelane’s guidance) harmlessly physically attacking several security guards who are attempting to control the situation. Pooh says his trademark phrase “Oh, bother.” when he appears and is the only one of the three who does not “attack” the guards, as “The bear, for no discernable reason, was performing mild calisthenics and muttering to himself.”
A Bathing Ape recently made a plush toy of Winnie the Pooh with their popular Bape camo.
Pooh and his friends are a part of the game Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II, the Square Enix game that combines characters from Final Fantasy and characters from Disney.
In Rocky II, a Winnie the Pooh blanket wrapping Rocky Jr. when Rocky Balboa and Adrian first see him.
In one skit on Saturday Night Live, there is a game show, and one question is, “What is the name of Winnie the Pooh’s feline friend?” When the contestant answers, a censor sign goes up. The host, played by Bernie Mac, is then seen attacking the contestant, who is saying, “I said Tigger, with a T!”
Jethro Tull’s song Up The ‘Pool includes the line “The politicians there who’ve come to take the air – while posing for the daily press – will look around and blame the mess on Edward Bear.”
In the Polish translation, by Irena Tuwim, Pooh was called Kubus Puchatek (Jacob the Pooh), because using a woman’s name for a male bear would have been too controversial.
Facts and Figures
Pooh’s official birthdate is August 21, 1921, the day Christopher Robin received him as a present on his first birthday.
The sign over Pooh’s door says “Mr Sanders,” though the name is not Pooh’s. The reason for this name is because, in the original book, it is mentioned that Pooh lived under the name of “Sanders” (that meant that he had the name on a sign above his door, and he lived underneath it).
Pooh’s obsession with honey is based on a completely false premise about bear behavior. While bears are major predators of beehives, they are seeking the brood (larva and pupa).
On April 11, 2006, Winnie the Pooh was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6834 Hollywood Boulevard.
It is revealed near the end of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh that Pooh is 1 year younger than Christopher Robin, which is obvious because he is “born” on Christopher’s first birthday.
“The Adventures of the Real Winnie-the-Pooh. The New York Public Library
“Winnie.” Historica Minutes.
Benson, Tim. Westminster School, The Royal Literary Fund, and the A. A. Milne Family.
“The Curse of Pooh.” Fortune.
“New-look Pooh ‘has girl friend’.” BBC News.
“The Pooh Files.” The Albion Monitor.
“Judge dismisses Winnie the Pooh lawsuit.” The Disney Corner.
“Winnie the Pooh goes to court.” USA Today.
“Justices Refuse Winnie the Pooh Case.” ABC News.
“Winnie the Pooh Celebrated 80th Anniversary with Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.”