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A few fun facts about Winnie-the-Pooh and friends

Wednesday, October 10, 2001

The real Christopher Robin came up with the name for his stuffed bear by combining the name of an actual bear at the London Zoo, "Winnie," with the name he'd given to a pet swan, Pooh. As for the mysterious "the," Milne recounts in "Winnie-the-Pooh" that it was apparently added by Christopher Robin to help denote the fact that he considered Pooh to be a male bear, since Winnie was considered a girl's name at the time.

Pooh was purchased at Harrods for Christopher Robin's first birthday in 1921. Piglet was a gift from a neighbor that same year, while Eyeore was a Christmas gift. A.A. Milne invented Owl and Rabbit but purchased Kanga and Roo from Harrods in 1926 as inspiration for the seventh story in "Winnie-the-Pooh." Tigger was acquired a year or so later -- just in time for Milne to write about him in "The House at Pooh Corner."

Christopher Robin isn't the only one who played with the toys. The family dog loved them, as well, which apparently accounts for their rather well-worn appearance. In fact, the dog reportedly chewed the original Piglet to bits, so the Milnes replaced him with another of like size and character. Baby Roo was lost in an apple orchard during the 1930s.

The toys range in height from 4 1/2 inches (Piglet) to 25 inches (Eyeore). They can be seen at the New York Public Library's Donnell Library Center, 20 W. 53rd St., New York, NY.

Pictures of the original animals are on the library's Web site at: http://www.nypl.org/branch/kids/pooh/winnie.html.

Sources: The New York Public Library and "A.A. Milne: The Man Behind Winnie-the-Pooh," a biography by Ann Thwaite

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