Alan Alexander Milne’s claimed his early education was owed to the skills of his teacher and mentor, H.G. Wells. In 1913, after graduating from Cambridge in 1903, A. A. Milne contributed humorous verse and whimsical essays to Punch, a famous magazine of Victorian humor. Milne married Dorothy Daphne de Selincourt and they had one son, Christopher. His famous denunciation of war entitled Peace With Honour was published in 1934.
The Bear of Very Little Brain, Winnie-the-Pooh arrived via a book of verses, Now We Are Six, appeared in 1927 and, in 1928, the final volume of the quartet arrived, The House At Pooh Corner. A.A. Milne always acknowledged that it was his wife, Daphne, and his young son, Christopher Robin, who inspired him to write the poems and stories. Christopher Robin Milne’s stuffed bear, originally named “Edward”, was renamed “Winnie-the-Pooh” after a Canadian black bear named Winnie (after Winnipeg), which was used as a military mascot in World War I. “The Pooh” comes from a swan called “Pooh”. E.H. Shepard illustrated the original Pooh books, using his own son’s teddy, Growler as the model. The fictional Hundred Acre Wood derives from Five Hundred Acre Wood in East Sussex. Milne lived on the northern edge of the Forest and took his son walking there. The adult Christopher Robin commented: “Pooh’s Forest and Ashdown Forest are identical.”
The four Pooh books printed in over twenty-five languages have taken their rightful place in the hearts and on the bookshelves of many millions of people. A. A. Milne didn’t write the stories and poems for children. He intended them for the child within us all. He rarely read the stories and poems to his son. The worldwide sales of the four books between 1924 and 1956 totaled about seven million. Amusingly, once sales passed a million, the publishers stopped counting. In 1985, the Russian translation, Vinnie Pookh, sold more than three and a half million copies in the Soviet Union and, in the same year, the Latin version, Winnie Ille Pu, became the first book in a foreign language to be included in the bestseller list in the United States. Before the success of the Pooh books, Alan Milne was a popular dramatist, novelist, and humorist and many of his plays were performed to great critical acclaim in both Europe and America.
His own favorite bear was sold at auction in London to an anonymous buyer in 1996 for £4,600.
If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.” – A.A. Milne via Winnie the Pooh
A. A. Milne (1882 – 1956)