23 January 2017: Winnie-The-Pooh Day and A A Milne
Last week, the 18th January marked National 'Winnie -the-Pooh Day'. On this day in 1882 the creator of one of the nation's most beloved characters was born.
A.A Milne reached great popularity with his children's stories. These tales centred around a group of anthropomorphic characters whose names and appearance were founded on the toys owned by his own son, Christopher Robin Milne.
Winnie, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga and Roo were all based on Christopher Robin's own toys whereas the characters of Rabbit and Owl were added by Milne. Together the characters lived in a forest area including the 'Hundred Acre Wood'. The forest was a fictional setting based on Ashdown Forest in Sussex. Several areas of the forest were used as inspiration in the Winnie-The-Pooh books.
Pooh Bear's first appearance in the literary sphere was in Milne's poem 'The Teddy Bear' in his work When We Were Very Young. Pooh is only referred to as the teddy bear in this work and not yet by name. This poem briefly explores the life of the lovable bear and the illustrations by E H Shepard shows Pooh executing his 'stoutness' exercises; a memorable feature of the later Disney adaptations.
The first printing of When We Were Very Young
was in the 1924 Punch
was Milne's literary home for many years and several of his previous works, including articles, were published by the magazine. He was also an assistant editor at Punch
when he joined the staff in 1906. Here at Rooke
we have a lovely copy of the entire year which features this first printing of When We Were Very Young
. In addition to this we also have an early edition of the work when it was published in book form
, in the original blue cloth boards.
Following a short publication in the London Evening News where Winnie-The-Pooh is first featured by name, Milne wrote several works based around the character. The first was Winnie-The-Pooh which was shortly followed by The House at Pooh Corner. Christopher Robin and his friends were also featured in a poetry collection by Milne titled Now We Are Six. In our library we have a work formed of selections from these titles called 'The Christopher Robin Story Book'.
However, before the fame from his children’s literature somewhat overshadowed his career, Milne was a noted playwright and screen writer. He wrote four successful stories for the Minerva Films company which were filmed in the year 1920 and wrote dozens of plays. We have the first edition of his collection Three Plays
which features his successful comedy The Dover Road. The Dover Road follows the tale of a couple’s journey along lovers’ road to Dover, when their car breaks down. The comedy was adapted into the 1934 American film Where Sinners Meet
. The film was directed by J Walter Ruben and starred Diana Wynyard, Clive Brook and Billie Burke. We also have a first edition collection of Milne’s plays published the same year as his popular Winnie-The-Pooh, titled Four Plays
Milne was an incredibly talented writer in all fields he pursued. His bibliography is extensive and he worked hard at his career. His rather extraordinary literary legacy shall continue to live on through his wonderful honey-loving bear, Winnie-The-Pooh.