Cuddling under the blankets while listening to bedtime stories is a fond childhood memory shared by countless people, no matter time or place. The practice of soothing sleepy children with calming tales is practised across cultures, and parents often rely on traditional nursery rhymes, fables, and fairytales for this purpose – some of which date back to more than a thousand years.
This exhibition showcases beloved characters from such bedtime stories, who have worked for many years to comfort restless children. Three key collections – Classic Literature, Famous Fables and Reinvented Stories – will have you revisiting familiar children’s novels, learning about some of the world’s most enduring stories, and seeing characters make the big leap from books to screen.
Classic Literature Featuring Winnie The Pooh
In 1924, the world’s most well-known anthropomorphic bear made his debut in a short poem written by A. A. Milne, and illustrated by E. H. Shepard. Winnie-the-Pooh, also known as Pooh Bear, or Pooh, was based on a stuffed teddy bear owned by Milne’s son, Christopher Robin. Supporting characters like Eeyore, Kanga, Tigger, Piglet and Roo were also based off of Christopher Robin’s stuffed toys, while other characters such as Heffalump, Rabbit and Owl were original creations.
Naive, dimwitted, yet extremely kind and steadfast, Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh stories quickly won the hearts of children across England, eventually becoming one of the best known characters in British children’s literature. In 1966, Walt Disney Productions began licensing film rights to Milne’s story, producing multiple television series and film adaptations which were many generations’ first encounter with the gentle, hunny-loving bear.
Winnie the Pooh
By the publication of the second Winnie the Pooh book ‘The House at Pooh Corner’ in 1928, the character had become wildly popular.
Writer A.A. Milne was asked to licence the rights to his creations to produce toys. He granted sole rights to a young New York literary agent Stephen Slesinger.
Early toys were patterned after the classic teddy bear and did not resemble the characters in the book.
It was Agnes Brush who later acquired a licence to make the beloved characters who created this toy in the museum.
She hired 7 to 8 other skilled seamstresses in her neighbourhood to sew the toys according to her designs.
Mrs. Brush would make sure that each figure met her high standards, before she personally added the finishing touches, such as the beads for Pooh’s eyes. Some features, like Tigger’s eyes and stripes, were hand-painted.
With a bright red pen, Mrs. Brush would write on a white string tag, which read:
From “WINNIE THE POOH”
Made by AGNES BRUSH
Winnie the Pooh
Year of Make
Country of Origin
Fabric and Felt
United States of America