Today is Christopher Robin's birthday. The real-life Christopher Robin who's adventures with Winnie-the-Pooh are immortalized in his father, A.A. Milne’s, books Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner.
It all started in White River, Ontario. Canadian soldier and veterinarian, Harry Colebourn, was at a train station where he bought a little bear cub for $20. He named the cub “Winnipeg Bear” after the town he grew up in — that’s where the name “Winnie” comes from, it’s actually a nickname! Since Harry was on his way to Quebec, to join fellow soldiers heading overseas for World War I, the bear went with him. When Harry and his troop left for England, Winnie was right there with him on the ship.
In England, Winnie became the mascot for Harry’s troop, which was called the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade. Winnie was a popular member of the team, and the brigade played with her whenever they had downtime. (That’s right, Winnie was a “her”!) When the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade received word they were going to France, it came with the order that Harry could not bring Winnie. But the silver lining was that Winnie would be loaned to the London Zoo, a move that would later become permanent once Harry realized how loved she was by all the zoo-goers.
Two of Winnie’s most frequent visitors were Christopher Robin and his father, A. A. Milne. Christopher Robin named his teddy bear after Winnie, combined with the name of a friend’s pet swan, “Pooh,” to create Winnie-the-Pooh.
Inspired by his son’s teddy bear, A. A. Milne published Winnie-the-Pooh on October 14, 1926. The very first book about the silly old bear also included Piglet, Eeyore and Kanga — all toys in the book as they were based on other real-life toys of Christopher Robin’s — and Owl and Rabbit. It wasn’t until the second book,The House at Pooh Corner, that Tigger was introduced, and he was also based on one of Christopher Robin’s stuffed animals.
Once Winnie-the-Pooh became a published character, the rest is history. Everyone fell in love with the stuffed bear from the books, just as they did with Winnie in the London Zoo, only this little bear could reach all parts of the world! In fact, Winnie-the-Pooh was even translated into Latin and became the very first foreign-language book to make the New York Times Best Sellers list.