The Fascinating Inspirations Behind Beloved Children’s Books

If he were still alive, Alan Alexander Milne — you may know him as A. A. Milne — would turn 130 years old today. If you’re a fan of Milne’s books, you probably know that you can go and see the original teddy bear that inspired the character of Winnie-the-Pooh if you visit the New York Public Library — it’s on display there along with a selection of other similar stuffed toys that inspired Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet. The fact that the books were based on Milne’s son’s toys is just one of a number of fascinating stories behind beloved children’s classics, and we’ve related a few more such tales after the jump. Let us know if you have any to add!


Inspiration: Stuffed toys

Milne’s inspiration for the anthropomorphic protagonists of his stories came from a collection of stuffed toys owned by his son (whose name was, yes, Christopher Robin Milne) — Winnie-the-Pooh himself was a teddy bear that Christopher received for his first birthday. There seems to be some debate as to to what extent Christopher came to resent the attention that the books brought him — his biography describes being taunted by his schoolmates about them, and also claims that “my father had got to where he was by climbing upon my infant shoulders, that he had filched from me my good name and had left me with nothing but the empty fame of being his son,” although the book also seemed to suggest that by his later years he’d reconciled himself to his father’s legacy. There’s more information here, if you’re interested.