Imaginary Maps: The Hundred Acre Wood

One of my favorite features of the book Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne when I was kid was the map on the endpapers by E. H. Shepard. It’s not the most useful map in terms of actual orienteering (even the compass rose reads P-O-O-H instead of N-E-W-S), but it’s exactly the kind of map a kid might draw of an imaginary place. And Shepard did give credit to the character of Christopher Robin on the map itself, which reads “Drawn by Me and Mr. Shepard Helpd”.

The only indicator of any sense of scale for the map is the title – the Hundred Acre Wood. But I always assumed that was not literal, but rather a descriptor that sounded large to a kid basically simply indicating “a big area where I play”. So… clearly science and logic are not at play in this imaginary place!

That said, the map is filled with notable landmarks and helpful labels, from “My House” (complete with a drawing of Christopher Robin himself) to “Where the Woozle Wasn’t” (a copse of trees surrounded by footprints in the snow). Everyone’s house is labelled, as are the places they play or do important things and some extra places just for the sake of completeness (such as “Floody Place”). There is no sense of scale at all (Christopher Robin is five times the height of his front door), but that’s a problem on many maps.

The Hundred Acre Wood from Winnie the Pooh

What’s missing is any sense of what is between those places. Is this all woods? Is it a large expanse of lawn with trees only where they are drawn? In which case, what is Pooh’s house, since he only has a front door with no apparent structure behind it? It’s very hard to envision what traveling around this landscape might actually be like! But it appears to have easy access to the North Pole, so that’s kind of exciting, right?

Even if this isn’t the most useful map, it’s absolutely adorable and gives a great sense of what the book is going to be like. It makes me smile every time I see it, even if I still have no idea where some places are. The map isn’t even printed in the second book, nor does it include any places mentioned there. This means that Eeyore’s house, Pooh Corner, and any idea of where Tigger might live are missing.

I did always wonder in particular where Tigger lives, since he doesn’t appear until The House at Pooh Corner and never seems to have a house of his own! He must sleep somewhere, right? Unless he just bounces constantly…?

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