Winnie-The-Pooh also referred sometimes as Pooh, Pooh Bear or just Winnie is a fictional comic character created by A. A. Milne and Ernest Shepherd. His first appearance was in “Winnie-The-Pooh” released in 1926. The bear got his name from a toy bear owned by A. A. Milne’s son Christopher Robin Milne. He himself was the basis for Christopher Robin. Most of the names of characters in Winnie-The-Pooh were based on the toys owned by Christopher except for Owl and Rabbit who were based on real animals and the Gopher which a new addition in the Disney version. Voice over for Winnie was given by Sterling Holloway and Jim Cummings. The original toy bear owned by Christopher Robin is now on display at the Donnell Library Center Central Children’s Room in New York. The inspiration for the name of Winnie-The-Pooh came from a bear “Winnipeg” a gentle bear loved for her playfulness at London Zoo and “Pooh” a swan the father and son met while on holiday. In “When We Were Very Young” Pooh the swan appears as a character.
Ashdown Forest, home of the Milne’s, in East Sussex is the basis for the setting of the Pooh series. Even the fictional name of “Hundred Acre Wood” is derived from the Five Hundred Acre Wood which includes some locations such as Enchanted Place which are mentioned in the book and lies just outside Ashdown Forest.
Christopher Robin received Pooh as his first birthday present on August 21, 1921 so that date is regarded as his official birth date and he is shown one year younger to Christopher Robin.
The first illustrator of Pooh was Shepherd. Later in 1930 illustrator Stephen Slesinger, a developer of comic book characters, adapted Winnie-The-Pooh for use in virtually every form of media like radio, TV and theater. He helped make Pooh the most loved bear ever and subsequently Pooh sales reached a record high. The rights to Pooh and other characters were left to The Garrick Club, Westminster School, The Royal Literary Fund and the A. A. Milne family upon A. A. Milne’s death in 1956. Shirley Slesinger started developing Pooh after death of her husband, Stephen Slesinger. In 1961 she signed an agreement with Disney for Pooh’s rights in return for royalties. Same year Dalphe Milne also licensed some rights which included motion picture rights to Disney. Currently the issue of ownership is not very clear, though Disney continues to make and sell merchandise including immensely popular Pooh teddy bears which generate significant revenue for Disney.
The hyphen from Winnie-The-Pooh was dropped after Disney acquired its rights and made Pooh stories into a series of Winnie the Pooh features. Disney made numerous features and feature-length films starring Pooh. They include “Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree” (1966), “Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too!” (1974), The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977), “Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin” (1997), “The Tigger Movie” (2000) and “Pooh’s Heffalump Movie” (2005) among many others. He also has television shows “Welcome to Pooh Corner” (1983-1995), “The Book of Pooh” (2001-2002). Winnie got a star at Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 11, 2006.