Organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, this exhibition features photographs, original letters, and memorabilia related to A. A. Milne’s Pooh stories, but what makes this exhibition so special to me are the dozens of original sketches and illustrations by E. H. Shepard, the illustrator of the classic versions of the Pooh stories.
The exhibition provides visitors with insights into Shepard’s creative process. In many cases, visitors can see a series of preliminary sketches leading up to the final published illustration. The exhibition also includes greatly enlarged versions of some of Shepard’s illustrations, and these giant versions help visitors see some details that are hard to notice in the originals. I especially liked seeing the original and enlarged versions of the illustration of Pooh standing at the entrance of Owl’s home. I based one of my yard art projects on this particular illustration, so I felt a personal connection when I viewed these images.
Visiting the exhibition reminded me that I am not the only member of our English Department who has taken an interest in the Pooh stories. Both Paula Connolly and Sarah Minslow have written scholarly works focusing on Milne’s Pooh stories. Paula wrote about the Pooh stories in her book Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner: Recovering Arcadia, which is part of the Twayne’s Masterwork Studies Series. She has also published two essays related to the Pooh stories in edited collections. Sarah wrote an essay titled “A.A. Milne (1881-1956): Influencing American Childhood after World War II.” Her essay will be published this fall in a collection titled Shapers of American Childhood.
In their scholarship, both Paula and Sarah comment on the ongoing appeal of the Pooh stories. Observing the enthusiastic responses of the many children and adults at the Pooh exhibition this past weekend, I, too, am convinced that these books continue to resonate with countless readers of all ages on both sides of the Atlantic.
Kudos — As you know, I like to use my Monday Missives to share news about recent accomplishments by members of the English Department. Here is the latest news:
Balaka Basu recently presented a paper titled “Emily Reads: Imagined Libraries in the Novels of L.M. Montgomery” at The L.M. Montgomery Institute’s 13th Biennial Conference, “L.M. Montgomery and Reading,” which took place at the University of Prince Edward Island.