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1924 – Alan Alexander Milne publishes his first poetry collection ‘When We Were Young’, constitued of 45 poems illustrated by E. H. Shephard. One of the poems features a bear wearing a shirt called Edward.
1926 – A. A. Milne writes a collection of stories illustrated once again by E. H. Shephard featuring the same bear character, based on a teddy bear named Winnie owned by his son, Christopher Robin… The later being featured in the story as a young boy living near Ashdown Forest, close to the place where the Milne family bought a country house.
Not only does A. A. Milne openly take his inspiration from his family life by featuring his own son, his teddy bear and setting the stories in Ashwood Forest, but he also creates supporting characters based on his son’s stuffed toys.
Everyone’s favorites anthropomorphized animals (yet probably dysfunctional in some ways) are born: Winnie The Honey Addict, Rabbit The Uptight, Tigger The Hyperactive, Piglet The Anxious, Owl The Dyslexic and Eeyore The Clinically Depressed.
1928 – ‘The House at Pooh Corner’, the second collection of Winnie The Pooh stories penned by Milne and illustrated by Shephard is published by Methuen & Co. The collection ends with a final goodbye to Winnie and his friends from Christopher Robin, leaving for school.
1930 – Milne gives the rights of ‘Winnie The Pooh’ to media producer Stephen Slesinger, in exchange of a $1000 advance and a 66% share.
1931 – Winnie The Pooh becomes a model for the licensing industry, and a $50 million business in just a year: dolls; board games, records, radio dramas are created.
1961 – Disney acquires the licensing rights from Slesinger and motion pictures rights from A. A. Milne‘s widow.
At a 26mn length time and directed by Disney animator/director/producer Wolfgang Reitherman, it is the last film to be supervised by Walt Disney before his death, while the Sherman Brothers compose the music and lyrics, the same way they did for another children’s classic.
Shorts movies, feature films, direct-to-video movies, animated/live-action television, millions of toys and licensed products will follow.
2009 – Sequel rights are reverted from Disney to A. A. Milne‘s estate. The later commissions writer David Benedictus (who dramatized ‘The House at Pooh Corner’ for audio in 1997 with Stephen Fry & Judi Dench) and illustrator Mark Burgess to write ‘Return to the Hundred Acre Wood’, the first authorized sequel in 80 years.
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