Acton History Group - Winnie-The-Pooh Historian Talks

Wednesday 14th March


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Shirley Harrison, author of The Life and Times of the Real Winnie-the-Pooh, the teddy bear who inspired A.A. Milne, comes to Acton on 14 March. Following an unveiling of a plaque on the wall of Twyford School in the afternoon, she will be speaking to the Acton History Group that evening about her book. The meeting will be at 7.30pm at St. Mary’s Church Hall, The Mount W3 [near Morrison’s]. All welcome – Members free, guests £2. Refreshments will also be available.

Shirley’s book relates how the Farnell family moved up to the Elms – now Twyford School – around 1898 as the business expanded. A new factory was built on part of the site – roughly where the new school building is now – for J.K.Farnell’s well established toy business. Part of that was the manufacture of soft toys like Rupert Bear [1920]. The factory had 89 factory girls and 50 outworkers, supervised by Sybil Kempe, the daughter of a local Professor of Music. Farnell’s Alpha teddy bears were being produced in 1921 for sale in Department stores and it was in one of these – Harrods – that Daphne Milne bought a bear for her young son Christopher Robin.

I think we all know the rest of the story but Shirley Harrison’s book describes how the family bought a house in Hartfield in the Ashdown Forest. It was the countryside around there in Sussex that inspired A.A.Milne to many of the stories. We also follow the travels of the original Pooh Bear himself. Along the way, we get an insight into the life of the Milne family and of E.H. Shepard who contributed the illustrations which brought the stories to life. It’s a fascinating saga, starting in Acton and ending up in New York.

For more information on Acton History Group you can e-mail visit the website: or come along to the meeting!

29 January 2012


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