Alan Alexander Milne was born in London on 18 January 1882. He grew up at Henley House School which his father ran!
Did you know he went to Cambridge University where he studied on a mathematics scholarship? So how did he become a writer? Well while at Cambridge he was the editor of the student paper Granta! He also co-wrote several articles with his brother Kenneth which appeared in Granta under the initials AKM (Alan & Kenneth Milne). These came to the attention of the editor at Punch, the leading humor magazine in Britain and they hired him!
He served in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment during WWI and later after a very serious illness moved to the Royal Corps of Signals. And during WWII he served as a Captain in the Home Guard (like our National Guard) in Hartfield & Forest Row. But he insisted on being plain ‘Mr. Milne’ to the members of his platoon!
He wrote 18 plays and 3 novels between 1906 and 1925. But it was the appearance of the poem Teddy Bear which signaled the character we best remember him for — Winnie-the Pooh! One of the illustrations for Teddy Bear showed Winnie-the-Pooh wearing a shirt which was later colored red when reproduced on a recording produced by Stephen Slesinger. This is the way Disney portrayed him and how we all have come to see the bear who kept Christopher Robin Milne company on many an adventure!
The original Pooh toys were well loved and played with by the family dog as well as Christopher Robin. The now live at the New York City Public Library! They first came to America on tour in 1947 and Milne provided a birth certificate to travel with them! His American publishers insured them for $50,000 which in today’s dollars would be over a half a million dollars! They stayed at Dutton Publishers until they made a brief trip home VIP on a Concorde Jet in 1969. Then in 1987 they left Dutton Publishers to make their home at New York City Public Library’s Donnell Branch in the Central Children’s Room.
The Real Winnie-the-Pooh, Kanga, Piglet, Eeyore, and Tigger. Eeyore’s neck lost it’s stiffening and so his head hangs down making him look sad. Roo was lost in an orchard in the 1930’s.
Owl and Rabbit were inspired by real animals at Crotchford Farm where the Milnes lived – it is the real Hundred Acre Woods!
Christopher Robin named his bear Winnie-the-Pooh after his two favorite animals. Winnipeg a Canadian Black Bear who was on loan to the London Zoo from the Lt. Harry Coleburn and the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade. Winnipeg nicknamed Winnie was their mascot, and they couldn’t take her with them when they went to fight WWI in France, so they loaned her to the zoo. Later she was given to the London Zoo as she had become the most popular animal! Pooh, a black swan was the other animal to inspire Christopher Robin. So his bear became Winnie-the-Pooh — the meant that HIS bear was a boy because Winnie was a girl’s name and everyone knows that “THE” means it is a boy!