Authors: A. A. Milne

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

English poet, novelist, playwright, and essayist

Author Works

Children’s/Young Adult Literature:

Once on a Time, 1917

When We Were Very Young, 1924 (verse)

A Gallery of Children, 1925

Winnie-the-Pooh, 1926

Now We Are Six, 1927 (verse)

The House at Pooh Corner, 1928

Toad of Toad Hall, 1929 (drama)

The Ugly Duckling, 1941 (drama)

Prince Rabbit and the Princess, 1966

Long Fiction:

Mr. Pim, 1921

The Red House Mystery, 1922

Two People, 1931, Four Days’ Wonder, 1933

Chloe Marr, 1946

Short Fiction:

The Secret, and Other Stories, 1929

Birthday Party, and Other Stories, 1948

A Table near the Band, 1950

Drama:

Wurzel-Flummery, pr. 1917

Belinda, pr. 1918

The Boy Comes Home, pr. 1918

The Camberley Triangle, pr. 1919

The Lucky One, pb. 1919

The Red Feathers, pb. 1919

First Plays, pb. 1919

Mr. Pim Passes By, pr. 1919

The Romantic Age, pr. 1920

The Stepmother, pr. 1920

Second Plays, pb. 1921

The Great Broxopp, pr. 1921

The Truth About Blayds, pr. 1921

The Dover Road, pr. 1921

Three Plays, pb. 1922

Berlud, Unlimited, pr. 1922

Success, pr. 1923 (also known as Give Me Yesterday)

To Have the Honour, pr. 1924 (also known as To Meet the Prince)

Four Plays, pb. 1926

Miss Marlow at Play, pr. 1927

The Ivory Door, pr. 1927

The Fourth Wall, pr. 1928 (also known as The Perfect Alibi)

Michael and Mary, pr. 1929

Other People’s Lives, pr. 1932 (also known as They Don’t Mean Any Harm)

Other Plays, pb. 1935

Miss Elizabeth Bennet, pb. 1936 (adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice)

Sarah Simple, pr. 1937

Gentleman Unknown, pr. 1938

Before the Flood, pb. 1951

Poetry:

For The Luncheon Interval: Cricket and Other Verse, 1925

Behind the Lines, 1940

The Norman Church, 1948

Nonfiction:

Lovers in London, 1905

The Day’s Play, 1925

The Holiday Round, 1925

Once a Week, 1925

Happy Days, 1915

Not That It Matters, 1919

If I May, 1920

The Sunny Side, 1922

The Ascent of Man, 1928

By Way of Introduction, 1929

Peace with Honour, 1934

It’s Too Late Now: The Autobiography of a Writer, 1939

War with Honour, 1940;

War Aims Unlimited, 1941

Year In, Year Out, 1952

Biography

Alan Alexander Milne will forever be remembered as the author of the well-known and well-loved tales of Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, Christopher Robin, and the other denizens of the fictional Hundred Acre Wood. While his reputation as a children’s writer will ensure his legacy, he also wanted to be remembered as a prolific adult dramatist, essayist, and novelist.{$I[A]Milne, A. A.}{$I[geo]ENGLAND;Milne, A. A.}{$I[tim]1882;Milne, A. A.}

Born in 1882, the youngest son of John Vine Milne, the master of a private school for boys, A. A. Milne attended his father’s school, Henley House. It was there that he was first introduced to the author H. G. Wells, who was employed at Henley as a mathematics instructor. In his later years Wells would offer Milne encouragement and advice in matters of writing.

In 1893 Milne attended Westminster school, after winning a scholarship, and some years later he entered Cambridge and pursued a degree in mathematics but nevertheless gravitated toward writing. He became editor of the school magazine, The Granta, and upon his graduation in 1903, he moved to London with the hopes of carving out a career as a writer. Within two years, his light and humorous essays appeared in numerous periodicals and newspapers. He published his first book, Lovers in London, in 1905 and despite blistering reviews, his skill as an essayist earned him a position of assistant editor at Punch, the well-known satirical magazine. At this time he also developed a friendship with his literary idol, J. M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan (1904). In 1913 Milne, having established himself as a successful essayist and editor, married Dorothy (Daphne) de Selincourt, with whom he would have one child, Christopher Robin, seven years later.

After the outbreak of World War I, Milne in 1915 enlisted in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and served in France. Like many writers of that day who experienced the horrors of war and battle, his military service had a profound effect upon his philosophical outlook and literary life. Though he never lost his sense of whimsy, life to him seemed less simple and carefree. Upon his return, he thus found that he could write serious essays as well as lighthearted ones. His most famous would come almost a decade later, in his 1938 pacifistic collection of essays Peace with Honour. In his plan for peace, he called for European countries and their peoples to renounce both aggressive and defensive war. Interestingly, a mere three years later he recanted this position and threw his support to Britain and the Allies with two shorter essays, War with Honour and War Aims Unlimited. He wrote, “If anybody reads Peace with Honour now, he must read with that one word ‘Hitler’ scrawled across every page.”

During his military service, he began his second literary career as a dramatist. While stationed on the Isle of Wight, Milne was asked to compose a skit for his superior officer’s children. Though he never completed the task, the desire to write for the stage never left him, and he began to dictate to his wife his first play, Wurzel-Flummery, which was produced in London in 1917. After the war Milne announced his retirement from Punch and launched himself as a playwright. By 1920 he would achieve his greatest theatrical success, early in his newfound career, in the drawing room comedy Mr. Pim Passes By. The play earned him an international reputation, and he soon settled himself into the fashionable London theater scene. He wrote numerous plays, and many, such as the Truth About Blayds, were well received. He, however, never matched the literary success found in Mr. Pim Passes By, save only when he moved into the area of whimsical fantasy. Toad of Toad Hall, his theatrical adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows (1908), is credited with not only doing justice to that well-loved classic but also improving upon some aspects of it. While striving to establish his career as a dramatist, Milne also attempted to establish himself as a novelist. His first foray, the novelization of Mr. Pim Passes By, was a success, as was his detective novel, The Red House Mystery.

Unfortunately, Milne’s successes as a novelist, essayist, and dramatist were brilliant but brief and hardly matched in the 1930’s or beyond. By that time, however, Milne’s reputation as a children’s writer had been firmly established. His original collection of verse for children, When We Were Very Young, was inspired by his young son, Christopher Robin, and was later followed by more such verses in the 1927 publication of Now We Are Six. Of course, it was Milne’s skill at light verse and abilities as a storyteller that provided the foundation for the stories of the addle-brained Pooh bear called Winnie and his companions. In writing Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, Milne, assisted by his wife, turned to his son’s collection of stuffed animals for his characters and the surrounding environs of their weekend country home, Cotchford Farm, in Sussex for his setting. Tales such as Pooh and Piglet’s hunting of woozles and the frenetic Tigger’s bouncing of the lugubrious Eeyore, once paired with the illustrations of Ernest Shepherd, became wildly popular in England and the United States. Much to his continued vexation, however, Milne’s success as a juvenile author soon overshadowed his literary career and would continue to do so for the remainder of his life. In his 1939 autobiography It’s Too Late Now, he devoted less than ten pages to his writing for children and lamented that in England it was easier to make a reputation as a children’s author than to lose it. Despite the misgivings about his reputation, Milne, of course, owed the greatest portion of his legacy to it. Since their introduction, Winnie-the-Pooh and fellow characters have quickly became cultural icons. By the end of the twentieth century, their likenesses had spread into film, television, toys (by way of Walt Disney) as well as derivative books such as Frederick Crews’s critically satiric Pooh Perplex (1963), Benjamin Hoff’s tongue-in-cheek philosophical The Tao of Pooh (1982), and the classically minded translation into Latin of Winne Ille Pu. Aside from Latin, his four Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh books have been translated into more than twenty-five languages.

With his literary successes firmly in the past, Milne in his final years led a somewhat lonely existence. He continued to write short stories, some essays, and even a long philosophical poem called The Norman Church, of which few copies were printed and even fewer read. Sadly, in his final days, he was estranged from his son, Christopher, who had few kind words to say about his father and his own childhood; he rarely visited him. After an operation in 1952 that left Milne partially paralyzed, he died in 1956 at the age of seventy-four.

BibliographyChandler, Raymond. “The Simple Art of Murder.” In The Simple Art of Murder. New York: Vintage Books, 1988. One of the most famous American authors of detective fiction discusses Milne’s contributions to the genre.Connolly, Paula. Winnie-the-Pooh and the House at Pooh Corner: Recovering Arcadia. New York: Twayne, 1995. A literary study by an academic tightly focused on Milne’s output as a writer for children. Connolly treats his work seriously, putting it in historical and critical context with other classics for young readers.Horsley, Lee. Twentieth-Century Crime Fiction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. Comprehensive overview of the development of crime fiction in the twentieth century helps the reader understand the nature and importance of Milne’s distinctive contributions.Milne, A. A. It’s Too Late Now: The Autobiography of a Writer. London: Methuen, 1939. Milne’s autobiography delivers insights into his writing process and the life experiences that shaped his work.Milne, Christopher. Enchanted Places. New York: Dutton, 1974. Christopher Robin’s own memoir on what his early life was like presented his father as a cool and rather detached figure.Milne, Christopher. The Path Through the Trees. New York: Dutton, 1979. This subsequent memoir about Christopher Robin’s adult life, adds a few details about his father but is warmer in tone and is dedicated to his memory.Panek, LeRoy. “A. A. Milne.” Watteau’s Shepherds: The Detective Novel in Britain, 1914-1940. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1979. Milne’s place in British detective fiction is explicated in this tightly focused study of the genre between the two world wars.Swann, Thomas Burnett. A. A. Milne. New York: Twayne, 1971. A standard critical biography from Twayne’s English Authors series.Thwaite, Ann. A. A. Milne: His Life. Boston: Faber & Faber, 1990. Thwaite draws on the memoirs of Milne and his son Christopher Robin, as well as on unpublished letters.Thwaite, Ann. The Brilliant Career of Winnie-the-Pooh: The Definitive History of the Best Bear in All the World. New York: Dutton Children’s Books, 1992. Contains the visual materials that Thwaite collected while researching her 1990 biography of Milne.
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