23 July 2021 Share
Celebrating the anniversary of A.A. Milne’s original Winnie-the-Pooh stories
Farshore have announced a brand-new story collection to celebrate the 95th anniversary of Winnie-the-Pooh. The official prequel, Winnie-the-Pooh: Once There was a Bear, will publish on 30th September 2021, marking the anniversary of A.A. Milne’s original Winnie-the-Pooh stories which were released in October 1926. The deal was agreed with Stephanie Thwaites at Curtis Brown and translation rights are handled by Kate Cooper.
Written with wit and charm by Jane Riordan, perfectly capturing the original voice of Milne, and accompanied by colourful and evocative new illustrations by Mark Burgess in the style of E.H. Shepard, Winnie-the-Pooh: Once There Was a Bear will take readers back to when Pooh was bought from Harrods for baby Christopher Robin. It imagines the ‘before stories’ of Pooh, Eeyore and Piglet for the first time, and offers readers the chance to meet the younger Christopher Robin previously only glimpsed in Milne’s poetry.
From London and Christopher Robin’s Mallard Street playroom to the familiar surroundings of the Hundred Acre Wood, this timeless collection follows Pooh and friends on a new series of adventures, with outings to the Natural History Museum and London Zoo, where Pooh meets his namesake, Winnipeg. The real-life Canadian bear – known as Winnie – was visited by A.A. Milne and his son at London Zoo, inspiring the name of the book’s much-loved character.
Author Jane Riordan said: ‘In the original stories, Pooh lives in a tree in the Hundred Acre Wood but history tells us that he was bought from Harrods for Christopher Robin’s first birthday. I couldn’t resist going back to this time in Once There Was a Bear and I loved the idea of seeing Pooh, Eeyore and Piglet in London and in the nursery written about so much in Milne’s poetry and beautifully captured in Shepard’s decorations. I hope readers will enjoy meeting some familiar friends again as they embark on new adventures.’
The Shepard Trust said: ‘All those who love E.H. Shepard’s iconic ‘decorations’ of Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood will be delighted by the wonderful new illustrations by Mark Burgess accompanying Jane Riordan’s new stories of earlier times for Winnie-the-Pooh, Christopher Robin and their exciting adventures. With both illustrations and stories in the inimitable style of E.H. Shepard and A.A. Milne, children of all ages will delight in the happy exploits of our old and dear friends.’
Originally published in the 1920s, following the First World War, A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh stories, with E.H. Shepard’s decorations, were an instant success. Their enduring appeal means the books have never been out of print and, to date, have been translated into 72 languages. The stories remain some of the best loved works in children’s fiction, with Winnie-the-Pooh named both the UK’s best-loved children’s book (YouGov, 2014) and favourite childhood book character (The Reading Agency, 2016). Jane Riordan has a strong pedigree in writing in the style of A.A. Milne, having also created Winnie-the-Pooh Meets the Queen and the re-issue edition Winnie-the-Pooh Goes to London.
The collection is beautifully illustrated in the style of E.H. Shepard by artist Mark Burgess, who is uniquely suited to the role having previously illustrated The Return to the Hundred Acre Wood and The Best Bear in All the World.
Radiating the warmth and playfulness of the original stories, Once There Was a Bear is a tribute to The Best Bear in All the World and is the perfect opportunity for readers to revisit their favourite friends and find out how they became the larger-than-life characters we all know and love.
Once There Was a Bear publishes on 30th September 2021, for ages 5+.