World War I troops from Winnipeg (Manitoba,
Canada) were being transported to Europe to
fight on the front lines. On their way there,
lieutenant Harry Colebourn bought a small female
black bear cub for $20 from a hunter who had
killed its mother. He named her 'Winnipeg',
after his hometown of Winnipeg, or 'Winnie'
Winnie became the mascot of an
army Brigade but Winnie spent most of her time
on loan to the London Zoo during the war.. Colebourn
presented the London Zoo with Winnie in December
1919 where it became a popular attraction.
Milne saw the bear in the London Zoo and started
to write a series of books about Winnie the
Pooh, his son Christopher Robin, and their friends
at 100-Aker-Wood. These other characters, such
as Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger, Kanga and Roo were
also based on stuffed animals belonging to Christopher
Robin. Other characters as Rabbit and Owl were
based on animals that lived, just like the swan
Pooh, in the surrounding area of Milne's country
home Cotchford Farm in Ashdown Forest, Sussex,
on which 100-Aker-wood was based.
was published by Methuen on October 14th, 1926,
the verses 'Now We are Six' in 1927, and 'The
House at Pooh Corner' in1928. All these books
were illustrated in a beautiful way by E.H.
Shepard, which made the books even more magical.
The Pooh-books became firm favourites with old
and young alike and have been translated into
almost every known language.
A conservative figure for the total sales of
the four Methuen editions (including When We
Were Very Young) up to the end of 1996 would
be over 20 million copies. These figures do
not include sales of the four books published
by Dutton in Canada and the States, nor the
foreign-language editions printed in more than
25 languages the world over!