FACTBOX: Winnie-the-Pooh stories

Wed Sep 30, 2009 7:02pm EDT
 
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(Reuters Life!) - The first official sequel to A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh classics will go on sale in Britain and the United States on Monday, October 5.

Following are some facts about the famous fictional bear:

* Winnie-the-Pooh came to life on Christmas Eve, 1925, when the first Pooh story, written by A.A. Milne, was published in the London Evening News. The piece was based on a bedtime story read by A.A. Milne to his son, Christopher Robin.

* The first Winnie-the-Pooh book, named "Winnie-the-Pooh", was published in 1926. "The House at Pooh Corner" was published in 1928. The original stories have sold more than 25 million copies worldwide.

* "Return to the Hundred Acre Wood" is the first classic Pooh story for more than 80 years. The story is a sequel to The House at Pooh Corner.

* The characters in Milne's stories are based on toys once owned by his son. The original stuffed toys are now kept in New York Public Library.

* Milne named Winnie-the-Pooh after a Canadian bear that his son had seen at London Zoo (Winnie) and a swan near the family's country home (Pooh).

* The rights to the Pooh stories are complex, but the most lucrative are those controlled by the Walt Disney Co which they obtained from Stephen Slesinger in 1961. The characters, and movie and merchandising spinoffs, have generated billions of dollars in sales.

* Pooh has been the subject of a protracted copyright infringement case between Disney and the estate of Slesinger. On Sept 28 a judge in Los Angeles dismissed the remaining claims by Slesinger's estate, ending a legal battle dating back to 1991.

* Slesinger's heirs had claimed the entertainment giant had co-mingled Pooh and Mickey Mouse revenue to avoid paying them more than $700 million in royalties.

Sources: Reuters, Egmont Publishing