CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Surrey Life today CLICK HERE

The art of Winnie the Pooh

PUBLISHED: 09:46 12 October 2017 | UPDATED: 10:09 12 October 2017

Gentleman & Pooh

Gentleman & Pooh

Printed by permission of Egmont UK Ltd

One honey coloured bear, a small boy and their eclectic group of friends - Winnie-the-Pooh and company are some of the most famous characters in children’s literature. Now a fascinating new book reveals how E H Shepard, who lived in Surrey for over half a century, drew and evolved the characters and brings to light original illustrations, letters and other memorabilia, much of which has never been seen before

Pooh with TiggerPooh with Tigger

The world of Winnie-the-Pooh was written by A. A. Milne and brought to life by E. H. Shepard’s illustrations. It proved to be a magical union that gave us one of the best loved characters ever created; a lovable bear with an affable nature whose comforting image lives with us for many years after childhood. Think of Winnie-the-Pooh and we immediately picture Pooh being elevated to the sky by his red balloon, the swarm of advancing bees, Tigger dancing or Eye-ore tramping sadly through the snow, all drawn by Shepherd with great simplicity, yet capturing the moment perfectly.

E. H. Shepard was very much a Surrey man and most of his illustrations were inspired by the countryside around his houses in Shamley Green and Guildford where he lived for over 50 years. He initially worked in outside studios, but when he moved to Long Meadow, in Guildford, with his family, space was made for him to work indoors. Wherever worked, inside or out, Shepard was a prolific artist and could turn his hand to many styles, but Pooh remains one of his most loved.

James Campbell, Shepard’s great-grandson-in-law and author of The Art of Winnie-the-Pooh: How E. H. Shepard Illustrated an Icon, says, “Shepard’s versatility is revealed through his illustrations of Winnie-the-Pooh, his often tongue-in-cheek war drawings and also through the many political cartoons he submitted to Punch magazine for over 20 years. It was through Punch that he was introduced to A. A. Milne, who was not immediately convinced that the partnership would work. However, once he saw Shepard draw the bear he knew he was the right person to bring to life the vision he had for Winnie and friends. The pair met frequently to work on the books and, driven by the art editor F. H. Townsend, it was the first time that text and illustrations were seen as equal partners.”

Winnie was originally based on a bear that belonged to Milne’s son, the real Christopher Robin. But Shepard’s first drawing of the bear was too severe according to Milne, so Shepard turned to his own son’s childhood bear ‘Growler’ for inspiration and Winnie the Pooh was born. He was named Winnie after a bear cub Christopher saw in London Zoo, and Pooh was a nickname he had had for a swan in Kensington Gardens.

Saw Piglet sitting in his best armchair drawing, from The House at Pooh Corner.Saw Piglet sitting in his best armchair drawing, from The House at Pooh Corner.

Shepard and the endearing bear, who valued friendship above everything else were consequently joined for life. But the union was not quite so long lasting for Milne, as Campbell explains, “There were four books in the Hundred Acre Wood series, which were written by A. A. Milne between 1923 and 1928. The first, When We Were Very Young, was published in November 1924 and the last, The House at Pooh Corner, in October 1928. Milne felt four was an appropriate number for a series so he ceased to write any more. Shepard however, continued to draw Winnie and friends for the rest of his life. They were originally black and white illustrations due to printing limitations, but when technology advanced he was required to re-produce them in colour. They were also printed in many different languages meaning some drawings had to be re-sized to fit the page. In the French edition, if you look carefully, you can see the Hundred Acre Wood gang in the picture of the Bayeux tapestry, clearly showing how much fun Shepard continued to have creating their world.”

Shepard worked as an illustrator until his death in 1976 at the grand age of 96 and no doubt the daily call upon his creative juices attributed to his long life. In his will he left his extensive archives to the University of Surrey, a testament to his fondness for the county where he had spent most of his life. The collection contains 10 decades of drawings, beginning with a drawing of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.

James Campbell, himself originally a Surrey man, has researched the collection for this wonderful book which beautifully captures the world of Winnie-the-Pooh and the man who created and illustrated him. Containing the first ever sketch of Winnie, this beautiful book includes many other drawings never been seen in pubic before. Campbell is married to Shepard’s great granddaughter, so he not only has access to new material, but he also has a deep affection for the man who penned them, and the bear itself.

“I talk to people about Winnie the Pooh on a daily basis, and whenever I mention his name, people break into a smile. There is a real resonance in the stories and we immediately recall our favourite moment, and our favourite illustration,” he reflects. “The words fit with the text, so it is easy to read and the stories flow. The characters are so incredibly real, and maybe we see a little of ourselves in one of them. Shepard’s favourite was actually Piglet, the little fellow who tried so hard to please and was so deeply loyal to his big friend the bear. All the stories are heart warming and unthreatening, calling upon themes, such as friendship, loyalty, the moral compass, honesty and trust. The things that most of us hold dear in life”.

E H ShepardE H Shepard

• The Art of Winnie-the-Pooh: How E. H. Shepard Illustrated an Icon by James Campbell with foreword by Minette Shepard and Illustrations by E. H. Shepard is published by Michael O’Mara Books and is out now.

• James Campbell will be at the University of Surrey on October 19 to talk about his new book. See surrey.ac.uk/events

• Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring A Classic runs at the V&A Museum from December 16, 2017, to April 8, 2018. See vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/winnie-the-pooh-exploring-a-classic

More from Surrey Life

10:06

We round up 10 of the most beautiful photos of Surrey shared on Instagram this week…

Read more
Yesterday, 11:11

This edition of Surrey Life features all the local ingredients to make this month special

Read more
Yesterday, 00:00

To mark the appointment of Peter Estlin, a former head boy at King Edward’s Witley, as new Lord Mayor of the City of London, Surrey Life has joined forces with the 400-pupil school to give away two tickets to the Lord Mayor’s Show on 10 November plus an overnight stay in London

Read more
Wed, 14:33

With The Great British Bake Off back on our screens the nation is falling in love with baking once again. Head pastry chef at Pennyhill Park, Sarah Frankland, tells us about what it takes to make it as a professional

Read more
Tue, 10:51

Wrap up in your favourite coat and scarf, grab your sparklers and a warming drink, and enjoy one of these fantastic firework displays taking place in Surrey for bonfire night

Read more
Tue, 10:49

Home to outstanding architecture, ambitious community projects and arts ventures that are putting these villages firmly on the map, East and West Horsley are among our county’s most desirable addresses

Read more
Tue, 10:43

Chertsey’s best-kept secret, the Great Cockcrow Railway, steamed into a half-century this year

Read more
Tue, 10:34

A taste of Korea has swept into the beautiful market town of Godalming as Bada sets out its stall with a tapas-style fusion of seafood, traditional dishes and spice

Read more
Mon, 16:06

With friendship as the central theme in Adele Parks’ new book, Zoe Richards met up with the bestselling author and her publisher, Kate Mills, to find out how these two Surrey dwellers have discovered a successful working relationship, and become firm friends too

Read more
Mon, 11:37

Great things to do in Surrey this weekend: art exhibitions, walks, concerts, theatre, places to visit and other events and ideas.

Read more
Mon, 00:00

As the twilight falls, the magic begins… There’s something for everyone at Christmas at Kew – and we’re giving you the chance to win one of five family tickets for two adults and two children to the Preview Night of Christmas at Kew on Wednesday 21 November 2018

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Good table manners have long been a source of national pride but in this modern age of social media are our longstanding traditions being left behind? Rebecca Younger visits the stately Beaverbrook estate for a lesson in British etiquette

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Whether you're looking for fine dining, pub grub or exotic dishes, eating out in Surrey has something for everyone. Here's our guide to the best local restaurants and pubs

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The spookiest time of the year is fast approaching! We pick some of the best events to celebrate Halloween in Surrey

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search