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Ernest Shepard on drawing Winnie-the-Pooh

The Story

Winnie-the-Pooh, Christopher Robin and their friends; Toad, Badger, Mole and the creatures from The Wind in the Willows: they are some of the most beloved characters of children's literature. Remarkably, they were all given form by the same illustrator: Ernest H. Shepard, an English artist who took inspiration from the natural world around him. In this segment from a 1971 interview on CBC Radio's IDEAS, Shepard reveals that the look of Christopher Robin came from closer to home: his son, Graham, was the model for the boy in A.A. Milne's 1926 book Winnie-the-Pooh.     

Medium: Radio
Broadcast Date: Dec. 22, 1971
Program: IDEAS
Guest: Ernest Shepard
Duration: 5:44
Photo: Evening Standard/Getty Images

Did You know?

• Ernest Shepard was not the first illustrator to draw the characters in Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows, which was first published in 1908. Grahame asked Shepard to illustrate the 1931 edition of the book because he felt the previous three artists had made the characters resemble puppets.

• After being paid a small flat fee for his work on the enormously successful Winnie-the-Pooh in 1926, Shepard negotiated a payment of one-third of all royalties from sales of The Wind in the Willows with his drawings.

• "I love these little people, be kind to them," Grahame told Shepard when he started the drawing process. Grahame died before the finished book came out, but he saw some of Shepard's sketches and a few finished drawings. On the occasion of his 90th birthday, two years before this radio clip, Shepard told a newspaper interviewer that being asked to illustrate The Wind in the Willows was the highlight of his career.



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