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A.A. Milne on Happiness and How Winnie-the-Pooh Was Born

On rainy days and the simplicity of happiness.

Although Alan Alexander Milne (January 18, 1882–January 31, 1956) is best-known for authoring the Winnie-the-Pooh book series, he was also a prolific poet. In 1924, two years before the first Winnie-the-Pooh book, he penned When We Were Very Young (public library) — a collection of poetry for young children, illustrated by E. H. Shepard. In the 38th poem of the book, titled “Teddy Bear” and originally published in the February 13 edition of Punch magazine that year, the famed Winnie-the-Pooh character makes his first appearance — but he had originated as a real-life teddy bear given to Milne’s young son, Christopher Robin, as a birthday present on August 21, 1921. The poem depicts the beloved bear, first named “Mr. Edward Bear” by Christopher Robin, wearing a shirt that was later colored red for a recording produced by Stephen Slesinger — an image that eventually shaped the familiar Disney version of Winnie-the-Pooh.

The third poem in the book is a short gem titled “Happiness” — a wonderful meditation on how little it takes to find happiness. (And, clearly, a giant missed opportunity for Apple.)

John had
Great Big
Waterproof
Boots on;
John had a
Great Big
Waterproof
Hat;
John had a
Great Big
Waterproof
Mackintosh–
And that
(Said John)
Is
That.

Complement with a rare recording of Milne reading from his beloved classic.


Published January 18, 2012

https://www.brainpickings.org/2012/01/18/a-a-milne-happiness-when-we-were-very-young/

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