OK, so there are dozens of teddy bear histories across the Internet. But here's my quick summary, to save you wandering off just yet...
In America, the teddy bear got its start with a cartoon, showing President Theodore Roosevelt refusing to shoot a baby bear. This appeared in the Washington Post in 1902 and inspired Morris and Rose Michtom of Brooklyn, New York, to make "Teddy's Bear" in honor of the president's actions. Demand was so strong that the Michtoms founded the first teddy bear manufacturer in the United States, the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company.
Meanwhile, in Germany, Richard Steiff was working in his aunt's stuffed toy business. Richard, a former art student, often visited the Stuttgart Zoo to sketch animals, particularly the bear cubs. The Steiff firm subsequently made a prototype of a toy bear. In 1903, an American toy buyer, who was aware of the growing interest in "Teddy's bears" in the USA, ordered 3000 of these! Other German firms, such as Bing, Schuco, and Hermann, joined with Steiff in making fine teddy bears.
The post war years led to a gradual increase in mass-produced bears, many from the Far East. But on TV in 1969, British actor Peter Bull openly expressed his love for teddy bears and his belief in the teddy bear's importance in the emotional life of adults. Inspired by the response he got, he wrote a book about his lifelong affection for teddy bears, Bear with Me, later called The Teddy Bear Book. This contains a multitude of anecdotes and (monochrome) photos, sent in by fellow bear owners, and is an essential second-hand buy for any serious bear fan.
Also in my collection and highly recommended is Teddy's World, by Mirja de Vries, in many ways an update of Peter Bull's book, but with gorgeous colour photos throughout. Published by Joost Elffers.