Winnie the Pooh

From Academic Kids

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The Disney incarnation of Winnie the Pooh, as a stuffed animal
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Disney Store Japan's rendition of Winnie the Pooh, as a stuffed animal

Winnie-the-Pooh is a fictional bear created by A. A. Milne. He appears in the books Winnie-the-Pooh (published October 14, 1926) and The House at Pooh Corner (1928). Milne also wrote two books of children's poetry, When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six, which include several poems about Winnie-the-Pooh. All four volumes were illustrated by E. H. Shepard. The setting of the stories is based on the Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, England.

The Pooh stories were later made into a series of Winnie the Pooh (without hyphens) featurettes by Walt Disney Productions, which spawned one of the company's most successful franchises.

Contents

Character

Winnie-the-Pooh, who is described as F.O.P. (Friend of Piglet), R.C. (Rabbit's Companion), P.D. (Pole Discoverer), E.C. and T.F. (Eeyore's Comforter and Tail Finder), is an unassuming "Bear of Very Little Brain" who is fond of composing poetry and eating honey. His best friend is a piglet called Piglet who is not very brave. They live in the Wood with a variety of other characters (see below), with the Owl being the only one to live in the Hundred Acre Wood.

Other characters in the Winnie the Pooh stories include:

Origins

The character was named after a stuffed bear owned by Milne's son, Christopher Robin Milne. Most of the other characters are also named after toys belonging to Christopher Milne, the exceptions being Owl and Rabbit, presumably (based on their appearances in illustrations) based on real life animals, and of course Christopher Robin. Christopher Milne had named his toy after a real bear named Winnipeg, brought to Britain from Canada and whom Milne and his son often saw at the zoo, and after "Pooh", a swan they had met on a holiday (and who appears in When We Were Very Young).

Winnipeg Bear was discovered at a stop in White River, Ontario, by members of The Fort Garry Horse Canadian regiment of cavalry, en route to the battlefields of France during World War I. The bear was smuggled to Britain as the unofficial regimental mascot. Winnie's first owner was Lt. Harry Colebourn. He was the regiment's veterinarian, looking after their horses. Winnie's eventual destination was to be the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, but at the end of the War, the officers of the Fort Garry Horse decided to allow him to remain in the London Zoo, where he was much loved.

Christopher Robin's toy bear is now on display at New York Central Library. "Growler", E. H. Shepard's bear which provided the model for his illustrations, no longer exists, having been destroyed by Shepard's dog.

Development by Disney

In 1929, Milne sold the Pooh merchandising rights to an American promoter named Stephen Slesinger. It was only one of many properties Slesinger managed, and during his lifetime, not even the biggest — that would probably be the Red Ryder comic strip, which he placed in movies, on radio and elsewhere. Slesinger died in 1953, and his widow inherited the operation.

In 1961, Walt Disney Productions bought film and other rights to the character and made a series of cartoon films about him. (Note that Winnie-the-Pooh's name was hyphenated in the Milne books, but lost its hyphens in the Disney incarnation.) The early cartoons were based on several of the original stories. However this is not true of the more recent films and television series which Disney have made.

The appearance of the cartoons derives from Shepard's illustrations but the style of drawing is simplified and the characters are given exaggerated features. Alongside the cartoon versions, merchandise using the Shepard drawings is now marketed under the description "Classic Pooh". The storytelling style and characterisation have little in common with Milne's tales.

In 1977, Disney released the animated feature The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, introducing a new character named Gopher – a sign of the increasing Americanization of the franchise (the gopher being a uniquely North American animal). This movie features three segments that were originally released separately as featurettes: Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966), Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1968), and Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too (1974). This feature version featured new bridging material and a new ending, as it had been Walt Disney's original intention to make a feature. In 1983, a fourth featurette, Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore, was released.

Pooh has become one of the most lucrative literary francises in history. Today, Pooh videos, teddy bears, and other merchandise generate $1 billion in annual revenues for Disney – as much as is earned by Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto combined.

Ownership controversy

In 1991, Shirley Slesinger Lasswell, the widow of Milne's literary agent, who inherited the rights to Pooh, filed a lawsuit against Disney, claiming that she was being cheated out of merchandising rights to the characters. Although she has collected $66 million, she claimed to be owed over $200 million more. After 13 years, the suit finally ended in March 2004; Disney won.

Other Works

The Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet by Benjamin Hoff uses Milne's characters in a very accessible way to explain the Eastern Philosophy/Religion of Taoism. Pooh has also been featured in four notable satires: Pooh and the Philosophers by J. T. Williams, Was the Winnie-the-Pooh a good Muslim?, and Frederick Crews' The Pooh Perplex and Postmodern Pooh, which both poke fun at literary theory.

The 'sport' of 'Poohsticks' -- in which competitors drop sticks into a stream from a bridge and then wait to see whose stick will cross the finish line first -- began as a game played by Pooh and his friends in the stories, but has crossed over into the real world. A World Championship Poohsticks race takes place in Oxfordshire each year.

The Pooh stories have been translated into many languages, notably including Alexander Lenard's Latin translation, Winnie ille Pu, first published in 1958 and in 1960 became the first foreign-language book to feature on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Stories about Winnie-the-Pooh

  • in Winnie-the-Pooh:
    1. We Are Introduced to Winnie-the-Pooh and Some Bees and the Stories Begin
    2. Pooh Goes Visiting and Gets Into a Tight Place
    3. Pooh and Piglet Go Hunting and Nearly Catch a Woozle
    4. Eeyore Loses A Tail and Pooh Finds One
    5. Piglet Meets a Heffalump
    6. Eeyore Has A Birthday And Gets Two Presents
    7. Kanga And Baby Roo Come To The Forest And Piglet Has A Bath
    8. Christopher Robin Leads An Expotition To The North Pole
    9. Piglet Is Entirely Surrounded By Water
    10. Christopher Robin Gives Pooh A Party and We Say Goodbye
  • in The House at Pooh Corner:
    1. A House Is Built At Pooh Corner For Eeyore
    2. Tigger Comes to the Forest and Has Breakfast
    3. A Search is Organdized, and Piglet Nearly Meets the Heffalump Again
    4. It Is Shown That Tiggers Don't Climb Trees
    5. Rabbit Has a Busy Day, and We Learn What Christopher Robin Does in the Mornings
    6. Pooh Invents a New Game and Eeyore Joins In
    7. Tigger Is Unbounced
    8. Piglet Does a Very Grand Thing
    9. Eeyore Finds the Wolery and Owl Moves Into It
    10. Christopher Robin and Pooh Come to an Enchanted Place, and We Leave Them There

Disney adaptations

Featurettes

  • 1966: Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (the movie where Pooh's theme song is introduced)
  • 1968: Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day
  • 1974: Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too!
  • 1983: Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore

Full-length features

Television show

Trivia

Pooh was Hong Kong's favourite Disney character in a 2004 poll, competing against characters including Mickey Mouse, Buzz Lightyear, Donald Duck, and Sleeping Beauty.

See also

External links

fr:Winnie l'ourson he:פו הדוב la:Winnie ille Pu hu:Micimack nl:Winnie de Poeh no:Ole Brumm ja:くまのプーさん pl:Kubuś Puchatek fi:Nalle Puh zh:小熊维尼历险记

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