Book(s) for your To-Be-Read list:
The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne | Purchase from Bookshop
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Based on the books by A. A. Milne, one might think Christopher Robin and his stuffed animals, especially the teddy bear named Winnie the Pooh, were inseparable pals. One might also think that to visit the famous Pooh-stick playing bear you would have to travel to Ashdown Forest, England, where the family once lived. Sadly, neither of these are true. Instead, the original stuffed animals that inspired Milne’s stories about Pooh and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood permanently reside in the Children’s Room of the New York Public Library, in the United States.
The Real History of Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh
If you’ve seen the recent Biopic, Goodbye Christopher Robin, or the more recent live-action, Christopher Robin film, you might assume that the real Christopher Robin had a falling out with his old friends, as any teenager is wont to do with his stuffed animals, but then rekindled his relationship with them later. The real story is unfortunately not so heartwarming. The real Christopher Robin disliked being only recognized as the five-year-old that inspired his father and was frustrated by the press and commercialization his toys generated. He was then bullied at boarding school for his fictional representation. Wanting to distance himself from Pooh and his story, in 1947 he donated the toys to his father’s American publisher. Around 1987 the publisher sent the toys to America for display to increase book sales. With no desire for them back in England, the toys were soon donated to the New York Public Library. In 1998 a British MP noticed the bear and friends in NYC during a trip and lobbied to have them returned home to Britain. In the end, Christopher Robin’s wish to maintain as much distance between him and his past as possible prevailed and the stuffed animals were left in the care of the New York Public Library.
Where to Visit the Former Inhabitants of The Hundred Acre Wood
To visit the former inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood, the easiest access is through the 42nd Street entrance to the library. Through this door, you’ll find the Children’s Room directly to your left down a short hallway. Inside, just past the desk, is an alcove built just for the stuffed animals’ display case. Behind the case is a large print of the map of the Hundred Acre Wood and off to the side is a small plaque directing you to an NYPL webpage for more information about the display.
In the large glass case, the original Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, Piglet, and Kanga are on display. The stuffed animal Roo, the younger kangaroo, was lost at some point, and the characters Owl and Rabbit were not based on original stuffed animals. If you walk to the back of the case behind the animals you can even see the tack holding Eeyore’s tail tenuously in place.
Much to my dismay, neither the webpage nor any wording on the wall indicates the reason the toys have ended up in America, and the librarian at the desk refused to divulge any such information either, telling us when asked, to go look at the website. She also didn’t seem that pleased by our excitement over the stuffed animals. I left feeling so sad that a bear that has brought such happiness to so many has been rejected by his owner, and now sits under the less than enthusiastic care of America. I hope someday to visit Ashdown Forest, England and play Pooh-sticks over a bridge in honor of this teddy bear, who may never get to go home.
Did you know Pooh Bear and friends are in America? Do you have an opinion on whether the former inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood should return to England? Let’s discuss in the comments below!
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