In anticipation of the Olympics opening today, here’s a tribute to the host city of London, and to a few of England’s multiplicity of cultural icons.
The stuffed animals of A.A. Milne’s son, Christopher Robin. Born in 1920, Christopher Robin received the Alpha Farnell teddy bear (purchased from Harrods, of course) as a present for his first birthday (calling him Edward, not Winnie-the-Pooh). But it inspired his father’s stories of Pooh bear, as did Christopher Robin’s other stuffed animals (received 1920-22), which the author, at least, called Kanga, Piglet, Eeyore and Tigger.
On display at Milne’s American publisher’s from 1947-1987, the animals were then donated to the New York Public Library to greet children and grownups visiting from all over the world. I saw them myself on my first visit to New York as a young snail, and it was the highlight of my trip. Their personalities are fully present, poignantly, because they have been so well loved. As the Skin Horse told the Velveteen Rabbit, “Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
James Pollard (1792-1867), The Greengrocer, c. 1819
Alice in Wonderland piece by Susan Sironi, from her exhibition New ABCs: Altered Books & Collages, at Offramp Gallery 2011
Oscar Wilde c. 1882
As I wrote in the post “Summer Reading” (check it out for more author portraits!), this photograph is by Napoleon Sarony. A photographer and lithographer, Sarony is best known for his images of theater stars. It is said he paid Sarah Bernhardt $1,500 to sit for him, the equivalent of over $20,000 today. Not a far cry from the legendary drama queen, Sarony took a series of photographs of Oscar Wilde. Oscar Wilde No. 18 (not the one above) became the subject of a U.S. Supreme Court case, Burrow-Giles Lithographic Co. v. Sarony III U.S. 53 (1884), in which the Court upheld the extension of copyright protection to photographs. Sarony had sued Burrow-Giles after it used unauthorized lithographs of Oscar Wilde No. 18 in an advertisement, finally winning $610 (about $12,000 today).
This postcard was sent to me from a former teacher. For another wonderful black and white photograph postcard from him, and to read one of his delightfully anecdotal letters, check out the post titled ‘The Beach,’ and the ‘Bastille Day’ post.
(the Madame Tussaud’s wax figures, should there be any confusion)
For more Beatlemania, check out the post ‘The Fab Four’
Let the games begin!