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The Pooh Connection - A History

Several years from now Winnie the Pooh will be a hundred years old from his literary birth in 1926 from the pen of author A.A. Milne and illustrator E.H. Shepard's black and white line drawings. Together they created a 100 Acre Wood and populated it with characters whose stories are as enchanting in the 21st Century as they were when they were instant best sellers in both the UK and United States.

Before the start of World War I Milne was a successful writer, and playwright in London, and had it not been for World War I, Milne's works might have been confined to witty essays and London stage productions. But, despite being a pacifist, he enlisted in the military and saw action in the trench warfare of France.

The heart of the story of Winnie the Pooh was Milne's horrific experience on the battlefield. Milne was diagnosed with what was then called "shellshock" and which today we call PTSD. After Milne returned to England he moved his family to the quiet of the countryside in East Sussex on the edge of a 500 acre national forest known as Ashdown Forest.

While Milne continued to write adult fiction, he and his only child, Christopher Robin, often with Christopher's collection of stuffed animals, explored the beautiful setting of Ashdown with endless hours traversing the woodlands of the Ashdown Forest. Spending time with his only child, wrote and published several poems about "Christopher Robin" and "Mr. Edward Bear." Father and son visited the London saw and saw a bear brought from Winnipeg and so "Mr. Edward Bear" became "Winnie." Milne explains the Pooh as an exclamation Christopher Robin often made when swans he called did not respond, and by some magic - the stuffed bear became "Winnie-The-Pooh," first in a short story published in the London Times in 1925. The wildly enthusiastic reaction inspired Milne to expand his Winnie the Pooh stories. From the beginning another war veteran, successful illustrator, E.H. Shepard brought pencil illustrations and captured the rich wonder of childhood tinged with a sense of sadness. It is their combined work which creates the depth of feeling unequaled by any of the later versions of the characters.

Winnie-The Pooh was published in 1926 and has the distinction of not ever having been out of print in its almost 100 year existence and having sold over fifty million copies. The original stories have a unique place in children's literature with the subtle but powerful message of a father's love for his young son, and the wonder and poignancy of childhood.

The original books, however, will always have a special place in British literary lore. Published following the brutality of World War I, they provided a much-needed solace in a time of great sadness, a connection to the innate wonder of childhood, and a specifically British sensibility.

Every parent and every child will find the stories of a special world one to explore hand-in-hand through their own 100 Acre Wood.

The magic of Colin David Breese nuanced voices imbues each character with the many layers of meaning and emotion that will make this audio book a family favorited to be shared again and again.

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