Opening at the High on June 3 and running through September 2, 2018, the exhibition — which is the largest ever of original Winnie-the-Pooh drawings and rare manuscripts — explores the origins, creation and lasting legacy of the stories written by A. A. Milne (1882–1956) and illustrated by E. H. Shepard (1879–1976). Objects include original illustrations, manuscripts and proofs along with early editions, letters, photographs, cartoons, ceramics and fashion.
Exploring a Classic seeks to reveal the people, relationships and inspirations behind Winnie-the-Pooh. Drawn from the archives of the V&A, The Walt Disney Company, Egmont Publishing, The Shepard Trust and The University of Surrey, the more than 200 works in the exhibition span 90 years of the character’s history, from 1920 to the present.
Key works on view will include:
- Shepard’s first Winnie-the-Pooh character portraits, drawn to resemble Milne’s son Christopher’s real toys, and original sketches of the forest landscape;
- more than 80 of Shepard’s original pencil/pen-and-ink drawings for the four Pooh books, including some of the best-known illustrations;
- replicas of Christopher Robin Milne’s stuffed animals, which inspired characters in the Winnie-the-Pooh stories;
- memorabilia from 90 years of Pooh history, including ca. 1930 plush toys, a Pooh Lego set and prints from the Pooh satire “Wookiee the Chew”; and
- a handwritten 1926 letter from Milne to Shepard and photographs of the Milne family.
The exhibition will occupy the lobby and second levels of the High’s Anne Cox Chambers Wing. In reviewing the show, London magazine The Spectator noted, “Most visitors will be divided into young children and those who remember the books from when they were young. There’s something for both.”