A.A. Milne: The Author Behind Winnie the Pooh

winnie the pooh

A.A. Milne was the author behind the world’s most lovable literary bear, Winnie the Pooh. Born in 1882 in London, Milne was the son of a schoolmaster.  Milne was on the front lines during World War I in France but was eventually discharged for illness. It’s been recently discovered that Milne was a secret propagandist writer for Britain during WWI {Check out the letters here}.  Apparently, he wrote stories of success of British soldiers to keep up the morale of his countrymen during a horrific war. Because he saved the letters, we are able to see his important role as a writer to his home country.

Pooh Man

When he returned to England, he began writing for publication. Milne’s first published poem was in Vanity Fair and featured his only son, Christopher Robin:

Vespers

Little Boy kneels at the foot of the bed,
Droops on the little hands little gold head.
Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares!
Christopher Robin is saying his prayers.

God bless Mummy. I know that’s right.
Wasn’t it fun in the bath to-night?
The cold’s so cold, and the hot’s so hot.
Oh! God bless Daddy – I quite forgot.

If I open my fingers a little bit more,
I can see Nanny’s dressing-gown on the door.
It’s a beautiful blue, but it hasn’t a hood.
Oh! God bless Nanny and make her good.

Mine has a hood, and I lie in bed,
And pull the hood right over my head,
And I shut my eyes, and I curl up small,
And nobody knows that I’m there at
Oh! Thank you, God, for a lovely day.
And what was the other I had to say?
I said “Bless Daddy,” so what can it be?
Oh! Now I remember it. God bless Me.

Little Boy kneels at the foot of the bed,
Droops on the little hands little gold head.
Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares!
Christopher Robin is saying his prayers.

 

“Vespers” was so popular that Milne began to work on a book of poems, with illustrator Ernest Shepard, about a teddy bear who “however hard he tries grows tubby without exercise.” Pooh Bear was a hit!

It was not until 1925 that Pooh officially came into being. Milne’s contribution for the Christmas Eve issue of the Evening News was a bedtime story that he had made up for his son about adventures he had with his Teddy Bear who was known as Winnie the Pooh. It was also at this time that the Milne family moved to the cottage at Cotchford Farm in Sussex which later provided the setting for the Pooh books.

This bedtime story formed the first chapter of Milnes next book entitled ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ (1926). This book was followed by the verses ‘Now We are Six’ (1927), and ‘The House at Pooh Corner’ (1928). In an attempt to shield his son from the publicity generated by the success of the Pooh stories, Milne announced that ‘The House at Pooh Corner’ would be his last Christopher Robin book.

Interestingly, Milne didn’t write the Pooh stories and poems for children but instead intended them for the child within us. He also never read the stories and poems to his son Christopher, preferring rather to amuse him with the works of P.G. Wodehouse, one of Milne’s favourite authors. Although Milne went on to write other plays and novels, these Pooh stories remain his best known work. For many years Milne himself resented the fact that his literary fame was based on children’s books, not on his other work. Today, his plays are rarely performed in the professional theatre, although amateur productions are playing in almost every English-speaking country throughout the world. (From Just-Pooh)

Milne created one of the most classic literary works about a bear and his friends in the Hundred Acre Woods.  Why do you think Pooh is a lasting character for children’s books?

“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”
― A.A. MilneWinnie-the-Pooh

Additional Pooh Info

“Us Two” by A.A. Milne

Winnie the Pooh on Goodreads

10 Things Winnie Pooh Taught Me About Life

Film of Milne’s Life “Goodbye Christopher Robin”

 

One Comment

  1. […] literary characters (along with Piglet, of course!) A.A. Milne, the author, is quite fascinating: check out my background on his writing and other Pooh links. His writing had such a distinct and poignant style; here are 10 of my favorite charming quotes […]

    September 10, 2014

Comments are closed.