A.A. Milne on Happiness and How Winnie-the-Pooh Was Born
By Maria Popova
Although Alan Alexander Milne (January 18, 1882–January 31, 1956) is best-known for authoring the Winnie-the-Pooh book series, he was also a prolific poet. In 1924, two years before the first Winnie-the-Pooh book, he penned When We Were Very Young (public library) — a collection of poetry for young children, illustrated by E. H. Shepard. In the 38th poem of the book, titled “Teddy Bear” and originally published in the February 13 edition of Punch magazine that year, the famed Winnie-the-Pooh character makes his first appearance — but he had originated as a real-life teddy bear given to Milne’s young son, Christopher Robin, as a birthday present on August 21, 1921. The poem depicts the beloved bear, first named “Mr. Edward Bear” by Christopher Robin, wearing a shirt that was later colored red for a recording produced by Stephen Slesinger — an image that eventually shaped the familiar Disney version of Winnie-the-Pooh.
The third poem in the book is a short gem titled “Happiness” — a wonderful meditation on how little it takes to find happiness. (And, clearly, a giant missed opportunity for Apple.)
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Complement with a rare recording of Milne reading from his beloved classic.
Published January 18, 2012