In this special guest post, Simon Thomas from Shiny New Books looks into the interesting life and work of Alan Alexander Milne, creator of Winnie-the-Pooh…
1. A.A. Milne had a famous schoolteacher. A.A. Milne’s father John ran a small boys’ school, Henley House, and one of the teachers he employed was a young H.G. Wells. Wells was a few years away from publishing his first novel, The Time Machine, when he had a post at Henley House 1889-90 and taught Milne mathematics. It obviously rubbed off, as that was the subject Milne read at Cambridge.
2. He wrote a very prescient play about Christopher Robin. Almost. Before the success of Winnie the Pooh et al, and indeed before Christopher Robin was born, Milne was a very successful playwright. One of his early plays was The Great Broxopp, about the resentment a child felt against the father who had used his name and image in a popular advertisement … the same resentment Christopher Milne would later feel about being Christopher Robin.
3. He was famous for his pacifism. Despite – or because of – fighting in WW1, Milne was a noted pacifist in the 1930s, and Peace With Honour was widely read in 1934. However, it was followed up in 1940 by War With Honour: ‘If anyone reads Peace With Honour now, he must read it with that one word HITLER scrawled across every page.’
4. He had a couple of literary feuds. He led the charge against P.G. Wodehouse and his ‘Berlin Broadcasts’ (Wodehouse would later comment ‘Nobody could be more anxious than myself that Alan Alexander Milne should trip over a loose boot-lace and break his neck’, while adding that he still loved Milne’s writing). He also fell out with Dorothy Parker, who finished her review of The House at Pooh Corner saying ‘Tonstant Weader fwowed up’. Twenty years later, Milne quoted the review in his autobiography, adding ‘[sic, if I may]’.
5. He unknowingly caused a Latin bestseller. Alexander Lennard’s translation of Winnie-the-Pooh – Winnie ille Pu – was published in 1958, two years after Milne’s death, and in 1960 became the only work in Latin ever to appear in the New York Times’ bestseller list. Not bad for a bear of very little brain.
Simon Thomas is one of the founders of Shiny New Books, where this post originally appeared.
Image: Original Winnie the Pooh stuffed toys. Clockwise from bottom left: Tigger, Kanga, Edward Bear (aka Winnie-the-Pooh), Eeyore, and Piglet. Author: Spictacular; public domain.
Reblogged this on Pieces of String and commented:
Some very interesting facts about the author of a true classic of children’s literature, Winnie – the – Pooh.
Reblogged this on The blog of Daniel LeMath and commented:
Really fascinating facts. Thanks for this!
Great post! How wonderful to have H.G Wells as his teacher.
Really fascinating facts. I love Milne and Wells. Nice to know that they know each other.
Not too long ago I also posted about A.A. Milne’ a classic himself!
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I’ve always loved the Pooh/Christopher Robin books. It’s so cool to hear that Milne knew HG Wells!
Thanks so much for posting this here – A A Milne was a fascinating man, and I had fun putting together five facts. Honoured to appear in the series!
Lovely Post about a Lovely Author. Where would we be without Winnie the Pooh???? :)
I did my presentation unit in Children’s Lit over A.A.Milne and love the rich history and interesting tid-bits that fill up all of his life. These are no exception! Thank you for this post!