A Bear of Little Brain Joins Library Archive

July 4, 2001

This is some old news (from December 2000), but I just received this information last week and I think it is still interesting to mention. Four 70 year-old plasticine figures of characters from Winnie the Pooh, made by the original illustrator of the books, have been donated to The British Library. The figures - of Tigger, Piglet, and two of Pooh himself - were made for the donor (Harry Stopes-Roe) by E. H. Shepard, along with a letter written to him when he was young. Replying to a party invitation, the letter purports to be directly from Winnie the Pooh, and is in his handwriting and spelling. It includes a drawing of the bear sobbing as he can't attend.

Ann Payne, Head of Manuscripts at The British Library, comments: "We are thrilled to be given this wonderful letter, which captures so well the spirit of the original books. And the small model figures, which Shepard made for his young friend, are a marvellous survival from the hand of the original artist who drew Pooh and his companions. It is a very generous donation."

The four figures - varying between 4 and 7cm in height -are on public display with the letter in The British Library's 'Treasures' gallery for the Christmas and New Year period. The items' donor Harry Stopes-Roe comments "My memories of Pooh and friends go back to my earliest days. Shepard and Pooh were always invited to our parties. When they could not come they wrote a letter. And I remember very well sitting in Shepard's studio while he made the little plasticine figures, which I am also now giving to The British Library."

This donation comes at a time of heightened interest in Pooh, following the sale of the only known original portrait of Pooh at Sotheby's last month, and the opening of an exhibition of Shepard's drawings at the Dulwich Picture Gallery.

For more information, visit the British Library website.