Here Comes the Bear: The Story of Winnie-the-Pooh

Winnie-the-Pooh creator A.A. Milne was born on this day in 1882. Together with E.H. Shepard (1879-1976), a gifted illustrator, they created a timeless world of stories and images that have charmed generations of children as well as adults, and which still resonate today.

Shepard was recommended to Milne in 1923 by a staff of Punch magazine, E. V. Lucas. Milne initially thought Shepard’s style was not what he wanted, but used him to illustrate the book of poems When We Were Very Young. Happy with the results, Milne then roped in Shepard to illustrate Winnie-the-Pooh. The book debuted in 1926 in London and New York, and was an instant hit.

A.A. Milne (1882-1956) and E.H. Shepard (1879-1976)

In this post, I pay tribute to the genius of Milne and Shepard with a photo gallery of Shepard’s original illustrations in the 1920s revealing how the story of “the bear” and his coterie of friends came to be. Hope you will enjoy reading this post as much as I had compiling it.

Original Illustrations by E.H. Shepard

Ernest Shepard, “So they got down off the gate”, original signed illustration. Published on page 8 of The House at Pooh Corner from chapter one of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne (London: Methuen, 1926).
Page from a school sketchbook showing Shepard’s early gift for figures. Shephard attended St. Paul’s School in west London where his exceptional drawing talents were recognized and which subsequently gained him a place in the Royal Academy Schools in London.
“HERE IS EDWARD BEAR, COMING DOWNSTAIRS NOW, BUMP, BUMP, BUMP, ON THE BACK OF HIS HEAD, BEHIND CHRISTOPHER ROBIN.” ink drawing, signed by E.H. Shepard on lower right. This is the first depiction of Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin and was reproduced on page xvi of Winnie-the-Pooh (London: Methuen, 1926) where is appears as a full-page illustration opposite the first page of text of chapter one.
“Pooh’s Party”. Original artwork illustrating Pooh receiving the gift of a pencil case from Christopher Robin during his party, 1924.
E.H. Shepard’s sketch of Pooh and Piglet going hunting, created in 1928. (Source: The Shepard Trust, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)
This illustration is from the second chapter of Winnie-the-Pooh (Methuen, 1926), entitled ‘In which Pooh goes visiting and gets into a tight place’.
Probably the most famous book illustration of the 20th century, this work was illustrated in Chapter six of The House at Pooh Corner (1928).Here, Shephard depicts a contemplative mood in the middle of a game Pooh invented for his friends, capturing the scene in which Milne writes: “for a long time they looked at the river beneath them, saying nothing, and the river said nothing too, for it felt very quiet and peaceful on this summer afternoon”. Shepard added his own quiet humour: Christopher Robin is leaning over the top of the bridge, Pooh has his paws on the lowest rung and Piglet, too short to reach a rung and a little timid, safely holds onto Pooh making sure he is not too close to the edge.
The previous illustration in a color edition of The House at Pooh Corner (1928).
“Pooh and Piglet walked home thoughtfully together in the golden evening, and for a long time they were silent,” illustration for Winnie-the-Pooh (1926).

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