Winnie the Who…?

Winnie the Pooh holds cultural significance for people all over the world. Many of us hearing the theme tune can’t help but sing along. Memories of playing pooh sticks on bridges on sunny afternoons come flooding back. To this day, a number of us will still have Winnie the Pooh paraphernalia dotted all over the place. If this is not your experience, let’s just say our upbringings were very different.

For those of you who did not have this wonderful version of childhood all is not lost. Although I’m not suggesting you go out and buy Winnie the Pooh toys for your adult self, it may not be such a ridiculous idea. The bear’s merchandise is now valued at up to £3.6bn a year. That’s not bad for a stuffed bear with a penchant for honey. Neither is it for the author, A.A. Milne, who famously based the stories on his own son’s imagined adventures with his teddy bear Winnie.

You may be wondering why I have decided to dedicate a blog post to this ‘tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff’. As the more adept of you may have realized I am one of those people who still have multiple Winnie-the-Pooh teddies scattered throughout her room, and, may or may not, continue to visit the 100 Acre Wood in Aldenham. This post, however, comes in a more timely and news-worthy fashion. The skull of the real Winnie the bear, who inspired the authors son, Christopher Robin, to name his own bear Winnie, is going on display at the Royal College of Surgeons Hunterian Museum. This is the first time the skull will be in use since it’s storage in the 1930s.

For those avid Winnie the Pooh fans, here’s a little history. Winnipeg the bear was purchased by a Canadian vet Harry Coleburn who enlisted in the army at the outset of World War One. When Capt Coleburn went to France with his regiment, (Winnipeg the bear had been the regiment mascot), Winnie was given to London Zoo where she remained until her death. At this time her skull was taken by the Royal College of Surgeons for research. It was during Winnie’s stay in London Zoo where Christopher Robin met Winnie and named his teddy after her; a teddy which would spark the imagination of a book series which was rated last year as the most popular children’s book of the last 150 years.

The resurfacing of the skull after so many years will thrill and scare off many Winnie fans in equal measure, I imagine. For those of us whose curiosity gets the better of us we can find full information about the Hunterian Museum here. I for one plan to make my way to meet the real Winnie. Until such time as I can get there I will be found humming the theme tune to Winnie the Pooh (if you don’t know it – listen here) which is now stuck in my head!


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