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Illustration of a girl in a purple dress playing with Corduroy

Author and illustrator Don Freeman wanted to write a picture book about a character who explores a department store at night. His goal was to create a story that juxtaposed the luxury of department stores with the relatively modest lives of their patrons. How did he settle on a stuffed bear as the hero of such a tale? “I don’t remember how or when a toy bear came into my life,” wrote Don to editor Linda Zuckerman, "but he must have come from way out of my past. You know, I could just see a bear wearing corduroy overalls with one button missing … the minute I settled on Corduroy and Lisa, everything came together.” He chose the name “Corduroy” for his cuddly main character because it was once his nickname for his son, Roy.

Though Corduroy is inarguably a classic picture book now, it almost never found its way into print. Initially, Corduroy wasn’t chosen to be published by Viking Press because they only published a small number of books each year. Don Freeman continued to remind the editors at Viking Press about this plucky little bear until, eventually, they decided to publish him. Don wrote the first draft in 1967, and the first copies graced bookstore shelves in 1968. Don ’s sequel, A Pocket For Corduroy, was published in 1978, but sadly Don passed away before he could see it in print. For more on the history of Corduroy, see Roy Freeman’s blog post, The Story Behind Corduroy.

Corduroy 50th anniversary logo

Corduroy first appeared in 1968 on the shelf of a department store and young readers fell in love. In 50 years, this little teddy bear has appeared in more than 40 books and warmed the hearts of thousands.

Don Freeman and his editor communicated via letters while they worked on Corduroy and A Pocket for Corduroy together. Read some of their letters below!

Letter to Corduroy author Don Freeman from his editor Annie Duff

Children have been naming their teddy bears Corduroy ever since Corduroy was published in 1968!

Letter to Corduroy author Don Freeman from his editor

Every detail of the original Corduroy was discussed, from when the watchman should show up to what would happen if Corduroy found an uncovered mattress.

Letter from Corduroy author Don Freeman to his editor about A Pocketful of Corduroy

In 1977, when Don Freeman was writing A Pocket for Corduroy, he wrote this letter revealing his original inspiration for writing Corduroy, and how A Pocket for Corduroy came to be in a laundromat!

Corduroy at the North Pole


Every time you purchase a Corduroy book, you are helping a child in need.*

Did you know that all royalties from Corduroy go to funding The Lydia Freeman Charitable Foundation? Founded by Lydia Freeman, wife of Corduroy author-illustrator Don Freeman, the foundation benefits an organization that provides support for children who are struggling with serious illness, physical disabilities or mental challenges, The Marie-Louise von Franz Institute for Studies in Synchronicity. Learn more about the institute here.

* Excludes A Pocket for Corduroy

Corduroy sleeping in an orange plaid chair
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