Author Spotlight: A. A. Milne
English playwright A. A. Milne has written many plays and screenplays, as well as several adult novels, nonfiction books, and poetry. His biggest claim to fame, however, is the world of the Hundred-Acre Wood. A. A. Milne is the creator of Winnie the Pooh.
Born in Kilburn, London, to Scottish parents, Alan Alexander Milne attended a school which was run by his father. One of his teachers from childhood was none other than H. G. Wells, author of classic science fiction novels such as War of the Worlds and the Time Machine, to name a few. Alan later on attended Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated in 1903 with a BA in mathematics. While in university, he collaborated with his brother Kenneth and wrote for a student magazine called Granta. Alan’s work was noticed by the British humor magazine Punch. Later on, Alan became a contributor and then assistant editor.
Alan married Dorothy Daphne de Selincourt in 1913m and they had one son, Christopher. A. A. Milne was inspired by his son to write more stories and poetry for children. His son also inspired the character Christopher Robin, who is best friends with Winnie the Pooh.
The character of Winnie the Pooh was originally inspired by his son and his son’s teddy bear, originally named Edward. Winnie (after Winnipeg) is a Canadian black bear cub used as a military mascot in World War I. The name “Pooh” comes from the name of a pet swan. Alan and Christopher often visited Winnie in London Zoo to play with him, and soon Christopher renamed his teddy bear Winnie-the-Pooh. The rest of Christopher’s toys were made into characters as well. Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, and Tigger joined Pooh in the Hundred Acre Wood. Two more characters from Alan’s imagination, Rabbit and Owl, were added to the stories.
Pooh made his first appearance in Alan’s poem Teddy Bear published in Punch magazine in February 24, but he wasn’t known as yet. Pooh’s first television appearance was on the London Evening News in Christmas Eve in 1925 in a story called the Wrong Sort of Bees. In 1926, Winnie-the-Pooh was published, and 1928, it was followed by The House at Pooh Corner.
The success of the Pooh books were unplanned. After Milne’s death in 1956, the rights to the Pooh characters were sold to Stephen Slesinger, whose widow in turn sold the rights to the Walt Disney Company. Disney created many Pooh movies, television shows, and merchandise. A plaque commemorating the work of A. A. Milne and Pooh illustrator EH Shepard is located in Ashdown Forest, Sussex, which is the location of the Hundred Acre Wood mentioned in the stories.
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