This July, Sotheby’s will offer for sale the original map of Winnie-the-Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood by E.H. Shepard. Possibly the most famous map in children’s literature, this charming sketch from 1926, has been unseen for nearly half a century and will be offered with an estimate of £100,000-150,000 at the English Literature, History, Science, Children’s Books and Illustrations sale in London on 10th July.
Featuring on the opening end-papers of the original 1926 book, the sketch introduces readers to the delightful imagination of Christopher Robin and his woodland friends. Exactly 40 years later the map played a starring role in the landmark Disney film – Winnie-the-Pooh and the Honey Tree – where it was brought to life as an animation in the film’s opening sequence.
As well as mapping the magical world of Winnie-the-Pooh the sketch also captures the unique personalities of A.A. Milne’s much-loved characters. Eeyore is depicted in his “rather boggy and sad” “gloomy place” with his head hanging sluggishly in the grass, whilst the energetic Roo bounces towards the “sandy pit” where he plays. A solitary Winnie-the-Pooh sits thoughtfully looking out over the wood to his friend, Christopher Robin, who stands with boyish arrogance looking back.
The charming childishness of Christopher Robin is marked by clumsily spelt locations, such as “NICE FOR PICNICKS” and “100 AKER WOOD”, as well as a compass marked with points spelling out the title character’s name. Shepard’s own amusing personality seeps into the illustration, as the map is signed off with the words “Drawn by me and Mr Shepard helpd”.
The map will be offered alongside four further original Winnie-the-Pooh illustrations by E.H. Shepard, none of which have been seen for almost 50 years. Among them is a most poignant illustration showing Christopher Robin and Pooh walking hand-in-hand to ‘an enchanted place on the very top of the Forest’ to say their final goodbye. In the emotional conclusion to his much-loved book – The House at Pooh Corner, A.A. Milne finally signs off with one of the most heart-rending farewells in children’s literature: “…wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place in the top of the Forest a little boy and his bear will always be playing.” The illustration, printed as a double-page, is, excluding a silhouette of the two friends, the penultimate time we see Christopher Robin and Pooh together as they make their way to the place of parting.