ExhibitionsWinnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic
Past Exhibition

Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic

June 3 – September 2, 2018

The stories of Winnie-the-Pooh—a much-loved bear with a weakness for honey—have delighted both children and adults for more than ninety years. Generations of readers have been captivated by the adventures of Christopher Robin and his bear, and today Pooh remains one of the most popular children’s characters of all time.

Pooh and his companions Piglet, Eeyore, Rabbit, Tigger, Kanga, and Roo were created by the writer A. A. Milne and illustrator E. H. Shepard. Their partnership combined Milne’s humorous wordplay with Shepard’s expressive drawings to create an extremely successful style of storytelling. Since Pooh first bumped down the stairs in 1926, millions of copies of Milne’s books have sold, and the residents of the Hundred Acre Wood have found a home in the collective imagination of readers worldwide.

This exhibition, organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, explores the history and legacy of Pooh through original sketches, photographs, memorabilia, and letters. The exhibition also includes interactive elements that bring Shepard’s illustrations to life.

Winnie-the-Pooh Musical at the Alliance
Concurrently with the exhibition, the Alliance Theatre at The Woodruff Arts Center will present “Winnie-the-Pooh” (June 7–July 8, 2018), a musical based on Milne’s beloved stories. This collaboration is the High and the Alliance’s fourth in a series of exhibition and theatre productions based on the work of children’s book authors and artists.

Bump, bump, bump, from Winnie-the-Pooh, chapter 1, pencil drawing by E. H. Shepard, 1926.

© The Shepard Trust

At the beginning of Winnie-the-Pooh, Christopher Robin drags his teddy downstairs to ask his father for a bedtime story. He explains that Pooh, also known as Edward Bear, likes stories about himself because he’s “that sort of Bear,” so Milne recounts one of their many adventures in the forest. When the story is finished, the staircase symbolizes a return to the real world—to bath time and bed.

Bump Bump Bump Winnie The Pooh Chapter 1 Pencil Drawing By E. H. Shepard 1926 C The Shepard 1110x1480.jpg

The bees are getting suspicious, from Winnie-the-Pooh, chapter 1, pencil drawing by E. H. Shepard, 1926.

© The Shepard Trust

Winnie-the-Pooh’s favorite food is honey. When Pooh hears a loud buzzing-noise coming from the top of a large oak tree, he decides to take a closer look. He climbs, and he climbs, and he climbs, when Crack!—the branch breaks. But there is more than one way to reach the top of the tree. If he had a balloon, perhaps he could drift up and fool the bees into thinking he’s a cloud, floating in the blue …

The Bees Are Getting Suspicious Chapter 1 Pencil Drawing By E. H. Shepard 1926 C The Shepard Trust 1110x1480.jpg

Pooh and Piglet go hunting, from Winnie-the-Pooh, chapter 3, pen-and-ink sketch by E. H. Shepard, 1926. From the collection of Clive and Alison Beecham.

© The Shepard Trust

Shepard combined lively pen work with a confident use of white space. This illustration of Pooh and Piglet’s Woozle hunt is unusual for its lack of background detail. Shepard’s design draws our attention to Milne’s narrative of the two friends’ roundabout wanderings.

Do You Think Its A Woozle Winnie The Pooh Crop 1210x1480.jpg

For a long time they looked at the river beneath them, from The House at Pooh Corner, chapter 6, pencil drawing by E. H. Shepard, 1928. Collection of James DuBose.

© The Shepard Trust

In this tranquil scene, Shepard envisaged the setting Milne describes in the story: “… the stream had grown up, so that it was almost a river … being grown-up, it did not run and jump … but moved more slowly.”At the same time, Shepard encapsulated the nub of the story and its theme of friendship. He was known for depicting suspended animation and did so subtly here. Christopher’s shoe slips off his heel, while Pooh stands on tiptoe, leaning over to watch the current. Piglet holds onto him nervously—he’s too short for the protective railing.

Pencil Drawing For The House At Pooh Corner By E. H. Shepard 1928 C The Shepard Trust 1146x1480.jpg

And pulled and pulled at his boot.… The first person he met was Rabbit, from Winnie-the-Pooh, chapter 8, pencil drawing by E. H. Shepard, 1926.

© The Shepard Trust. Image courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.


Proof of Pooh sitting on his branch … beside him, ten pots of honey, 1970 Line-block print, hand-colored by E. H. Shepard, 1970.

© Egmont UK Ltd, reproduced with permission from the Shepard Trust

In 1970, Frank Herrmann decided to add color to Shepard’s original black-and-white illustrations. By then, Shepard was in his 90s, and his eyesight was failing, so he made watercolor washes on specially enlarged printed versions of his originals.The coloring obliterates some of Shepard’s pen work but adds additional details, such as springtime flowers. Shepard previously had varied the color of Pooh’s jacket, making it blue, but during the Disney era he gave Pooh his now-familiar yellow coloring and red jacket.

Line Block Print Hand Coloured By E.h. Shepard 1970 C Egmont Reproduced With Permission From Th 1480x807.jpg

Winnie-the-Pooh first edition, 1926, published in London by Methuen & Co. Ltd., printed by Jarrold & Sons Ltd.

© Image courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Winnie-the-Pooh, first published in 1926, was an immediate publishing sensation. Milne’s publisher, Methuen, issued 35,000 copies of the first edition—far more than the standard 5,000-copy printing. This success prompted the publishers to make copper electrotypes of the page settings, extending their life. These helped preserve the line blocks because they were stronger and could be remade when worn.


Teddy Bear manufactured by Margarete Steiff, ca. 1906–1910. Stuffed and sewn mohair plush. Victoria and Albert Museum, London, bequeathed by Miss Z. N. Ziegler.

© Image courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

E. H. Shepard based his sketches of Pooh on toy bears owned by Christopher Robin Milne and his own son, Graham Shepard. This Steiff teddy is similar to Growler, Graham’s bear.

Toy Steiff Teddy Bear Ca. 1906 1910 C Victoria And Albert Museum London E1519673637525 1137x1480.jpg

Winnie the Pooh sake cups, porcelain, made by Hasami for the Walt Disney Corporation, ca. 2014.

© Image courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Winnie-the-Pooh is a world-famous bear, known by many different names across the globe. In the over 90 years since he was first introduced in 1924, his fame has spread internationally through the publication of foreign-language editions and varied merchandise, such as these Japanese sake cups.


About the Author and Illustrator

Winnie-the-Pooh was the result of a fruitful collaboration between author A. A. Milne (British, 1882–1956) and illustrator E. H. Shepard (British, 1879–1976). Both Milne and Shepard had well-established careers by the time they started their partnership in the mid-1920s and had been introduced through Punch, a popular magazine that poked fun at politicians and British society through cartoons and humorous articles.
Black-and-white photo of A. A. Milne with Christopher Robin on his lap with a teddy bear.

A. A. Milne and Christopher Robin. © National Portrait Gallery, London. Image courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Milne began writing in earnest as an undergraduate at Trinity College, Cambridge, and in 1906 became assistant editor of Punch. By the mid-1920s, he was an accomplished writer of humorous verse, social satire, fairytales, and plays, and had even published a murder-mystery novel.

In 1920, when Milne became a father, he turned to the nursery and his own childhood for inspiration. His first collection of children’s verses, When We Were Very Young, was an immediate bestseller. The publication of Winnie-the-Pooh two years later assured Milne his legacy as “laureate of the nursery.”

Shepard was also a regular contributor to Punch starting in 1906, and he sent sketches from the frontline during the First World War. In autumn 1923, an associate at Punch invited Shepard to illustrate Milne’s children’s verses. Shepard’s drawings perfectly complemented Milne’s humor. His style—in particular, his economy of line, lively detail, and sense of movement—was well suited to the text. Following the overwhelming success of When We Were Very Young, Milne insisted Shepard illustrate some new stories about a bear named Winnie-the-Pooh.

Pooh Goes to Print

Pooh was first presented to the public in previews of Milne’s verses and stories, which appeared in magazines in the UK and United States beginning in January 1923. Magazines like Punch had a wide readership, so by the time the verses and stories were published in book form, they were already well known. When We Were Very Young (1924), Winnie-The-Pooh (1926), Now We Are Six (1927), and The House at Pooh Corner (1928) became known collectively as the Christopher Robin books. By 1928, they had already earned “a unique place in nursery literature.”

Below, learn about some of the milestones in Pooh publication history.

Photo of pages from a magazine from 1923 featuring "The Dormouse and the Doctor."
© The Pooh Property Trust

“The Dormouse and the Doctor,” The Merry-Go-Round, November 1923
Milne wrote “The Dormouse and the Doctor” for a new children’s magazine, The Merry-Go- Round. It was illustrated by Harry Rountree, who specialized in anthropomorphic animals. The magazine editor, Rose Fyleman, especially liked the verse and advised Milne to write an entire book of children’s verses.

Photo of a 1924 printing of "Teddy Bear" in Punch.
© The Pooh Property Trust © The Shepard Trust

“Teddy Bear,” Punch, February 13, 1924
Milne’s verses appeared regularly in Punch from January to June 1924. “Teddy Bear” introduced the bear who would become known as Winnie-the-Pooh. Shepard added to the humor in his illustrations: though “proud of being short and stout,” the bear scrutinizes an advert for “THINNING BATH SALTS.”

“Winnie-the-Pooh,” The Evening News, December 24, 1925
The Evening News printed Milne’s first Pooh story, “Winnie-the-Pooh and some Bees,” on Christmas Eve, 1925. It was illustrated by Punch artist J. H. Dowd, whose scruffy little boy perfectly embodied the adventurous spirit of childhood.


Photo of a 1927 copy of "Waiting at the Window."
© The Pooh Property Trust © The Shepard Trust

“Waiting at the Window,” The Royal Magazine, September 1927
Verses from Now We Are Six appeared in the American Harper’s Magazine from early 1926 and in the UK’s Royal Magazine from early 1927. Even when not mentioned in the text, Pooh and his friends “sat down on some of the pages by mistake”—an ingenious marketing ploy.

Photo of a 1926 printing of "The House at Pooh Corner" from The Evening News.
© The Pooh Property Trust

“The House at Pooh Corner,” The Evening News, December 23, 1926
A year after it introduced a bear called Winnie-the-Pooh, The Evening News announced a new story, “The House at Pooh Corner.” Although Shepard’s name was already inextricably linked to Milne’s, the paper once again commissioned J. H. Dowd for the illustrations.

Photo of a 1927 printing of "Tigger Comes to the Forest."
© The Pooh Property Trust

“Tigger Comes to the Forest,” Sails of Gold, New York, 1927
Lady Asquith’s children’s anthology, Sails of Gold, featured a newcomer to the forest: Tigger. Like Shepard, A. H. Watson captures Tigger’s boisterous energy and enthusiasm, but she conjures a rather different setting: her trees are real, but the houses are pure make believe.


This exhibition is organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Logo for the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Support for the High’s presentation is provided by the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation.

Premier Exhibition Series Partner

Exhibition Series Sponsors

Ambassador Exhibition Series Supporters

Tom and Susan Wardell

Contributing Exhibition Series Supporters

The Ron and Lisa Brill Family Charitable Trust
Marcia and John Donnell
Robin and Hilton Howell
Mr. and Mrs. Baxter Jones

2018 Grandparents Circle of Support

Spring and Tom Asher, Anne Cox Chambers, Ann and Tom Cousins, Sandra and John Glover, Shearon and Taylor Glover, Sarah and Jim Kennedy, Jane and Hicks Lanier

Additional support provided by

Lucinda Bunnen, Lavona Currie, Peggy Foreman, Nena Griffith, Ellen and Tom Harbin, Margaretta Taylor

Generous support is also provided by

Alfred and Adele Davis Exhibition Endowment Fund, Anne Cox Chambers Exhibition Fund, Barbara Stewart Exhibition Fund, Marjorie and Carter Crittenden, Dorothy Smith Hopkins Exhibition Endowment Fund, Eleanor McDonald Storza Exhibition Endowment Fund, Forward Arts Foundation Exhibition Endowment Fund, Helen S. Lanier Endowment Fund, Howell Exhibition Fund, Isobel Anne Fraser–Nancy Fraser Parker Exhibition Endowment Fund, John H. and Wilhelmina D. Harland Exhibition Endowment Fund, and Massey Charitable Trust