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Wednesday, July 21, 1999 Published at 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK


Winnie the Pooh goes to university

The orginal toys on which AA Milne's books were based

Winnie the Pooh might have struggled to spell anything more difficult than 'honey', but now the old bear is about to make an unexpected contribution to higher education.

Once scratching a living in the woods, the easily-puzzled bear has become an extremely wealthy character, his likeness attached to children's clothes, school bags, games and videos and his books sold around the world.

Revenue from this global merchandising empire is now set to fund two academic posts, as a result of a bequest by Winnie the Pooh's creator, A A Milne.

The author, who died in 1956, ascribed part of the copyright from the Winnie the Pooh books to the Royal Literary Fund, a charity which supports writers in need and funds writing-related educational projects.

This income, which has grown greatly in value with the growing children's merchandising market, will now pay for two posts in the English department at the University of Warwick.

Pot of honey

"Winnie the Pooh would probably have seen this money as a pot of honey - and we're seeing it as much the same," said Professor Jeremy Treglown of the Warwick Writing Programme and former editor of The Times Literary Supplement.

"A A Milne has turned many people onto reading and it's fitting that his legacy should continue to help young people with their writing."

From this autumn, there will be a full-time post-doctoral researcher funded by the Winnie the Pooh legacy, examining standards of writing among students in higher education.

The post-holder, Dr Lisa Ganobscik-Williams, will consider what degrees of literacy should be expected in university - both in humanities and sciences - and how writing skills might be improved.

Seventy years young

The second post will allow an established writer to complete their own work, while advising students on how they can improve their writing. This post will be held by Carole Angier, who is writing a book about the author, Primo Levi.

Winnie the Pooh's entry into corporate sponsorship comes after the bear - and his business associates Piglet, Tigger, Kanga, Roo, Rabbit, Owl, and Eeyore - have spent more than 70 years in print.

A A Milne published the first Christopher Robin book, When We Were Very Young, in 1924, followed by Now We Are Six in 1927.

The most celebrated Pooh books, Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, were published in 1926 and 1928 respectively.

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