This piece ran on the op/ed page of the Times on Dec. 22, 2010.
The Library at Pooh Corner
by Jennifer Finney Boylan
EIGHTY-FIVE years ago this Christmas Eve, The London Evening News published a short story about a boy and a bear written by an assistant editor at Punch named A. A. Milne, thus engendering four children’s books, a slew of films and videos and a merchandising empire estimated to be worth more to the Disney Corporation than Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto combined.
(Not to mention providing the inspiration for Dorothy Parker’s most withering review, when she responded, in her Constant Reader column, to Pooh’s line that “pom” makes singing more “hummy” with the comment, “And it is that word ‘hummy,’ my darlings, that marks the first place … at which Tonstant Weeder Fwowed up.”)
It also resulted in my finding myself in tears last Christmas in the Stephen A. Schwarzman building of the New York City Public Library.
The story goes back 35 years. In the 1980s, I had a gruesome copy-editing job at E. P. Dutton, the American publishers of the “Winnie-the-Pooh” books. One of my colleagues was a crusty septuagenarian named Elliot Graham, whose title was director of publicity emeritus. Elliot was the shepherd of the original Pooh stuffed animals — Pooh, Tigger, Kanga, Piglet and Eeyore — which were kept in a glass case in the Dutton lobby on 2 Park Avenue.
He’d take them to schools and literary festivals and the sets of early morning news shows. We used to talk about the Pooh animals together, Elliot and I, as if they were members of a rock band, and Elliot their long-suffering manager.
When Dutton was sold in 1985, the Pooh animals became…(click here for the rest of the piece)