This week in 1926 Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne was published.
Milne was a writer for Punch and many of his first “children’s” poems and stories were printed there, not intended for children at all but for whimsical adult readers. The first Pooh story, “In Which We are Introduced to Winnie-the-Pooh and Some Bees and the Stories Begin,” was published in The London Evening News on Christmas Eve in 1925 and broadcast on the BBC the next day.
Even though Milne based the Winnie-the-Pooh stories on his son, Christopher Robin, and his son’s stuffed bear, he didn’t even read the stories aloud to Christopher Robin. Milne preferred to read his young son the novels of P.G. Wodehouse. Christopher Robin later said: “My father did not write the books for children. He didn’t write for any specific market; he knew nothing about marketing. He knew about me, he knew about himself, he knew about the Garrick Club — he was ignorant about anything else. Except, perhaps, about life.”
“Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it. And then he feels that perhaps there isn’t. Anyhow, here he is at the bottom, and ready to be introduced to you. Winnie-the-Pooh.
“When I first heard his name, I said, just as you are going to say, ‘But I thought he was a boy?’
“‘So did I,’ said Christopher Robin.
“‘Then you can’t call him Winnie?’
“‘But you said —’
“‘He’s Winnie-ther-Pooh. Don’t you know what “ther” means?’
“‘Ah, yes, now I do,’ I said quickly; and I hope you do too, because it is all the explanation you are going to get.”