Farshore will publish an official Winnie-the-Pooh prequel to celebrate the 95th anniversary of A A Milne’s stories, which were originally published in October 1926.
Written by Jane Riordan and illustrated by Mark Burgess in the style of E H Shepard, Winnie-the-Pooh: Once There Was a Bear will take readers back to when Pooh was bought from Harrods for baby Christopher Robin (shown in the illustration below). It will imagine the "before stories" of Pooh, Eeyore and Piglet for the first time, and readers will meet the younger Christopher Robin previously glimpsed in Milne’s poetry.
The stories will take readers from London and Christopher Robin’s Mallard Street playroom to the familiar surroundings of the Hundred Acre Wood, and follow Pooh and friends on a new series of adventures, with outings to the Natural History Museum and London Zoo, where Pooh meets his namesake, Winnipeg.
The deal for world English language rights (excluding the US, its colonies and dependencies, the Philippine Islands and Canada) was agreed with Stephanie Thwaites at Curtis Brown and translation rights are being handled by Kate Cooper. Riordan was represented by Lydia Silver at Darley Anderson Children’s Book Agency and Burgess was represented by Nancy Miles at the Miles Stott Children’s Literary Agency. Winnie-the-Pooh: Once There Was a Bear will publish on 30th September 2021.
Riordan said: "In the original stories, Pooh lives in a tree in the Hundred Acre Wood but history tells us that he was bought from Harrods for Christopher Robin’s first birthday. I couldn’t resist going back to this time in Once There Was a Bear and I loved the idea of seeing Pooh, Eeyore and Piglet in London and in the nursery written about so much in Milne’s poetry and beautifully captured in Shepard’s decorations. I hope readers will enjoy meeting some familiar friends again as they embark on new adventures."
The Shepard Trust said: "All those who love E H Shepard’s iconic ‘decorations’ of Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood will be delighted by the wonderful new illustrations by Mark Burgess accompanying Jane Riordan’s new stories of earlier times for Winnie-the-Pooh, Christopher Robin and their exciting adventures. With both illustrations and stories in the inimitable style of E H Shepard and A A Milne, children of all ages will delight in the happy exploits of our old and dear friends."
Riordan and Burgess previously published Winnie-the-Pooh Meets the Queen (2016) and the re-issue edition of Winnie-the-Pooh Goes to London (2018), both under Farshore's previous name, Egmont.