Alan Alexander Milne was born on January 18, 1882 and was the youngest of three children of Sarah and John Milne. Later, he would be known as A.A. Milne, the author of several books about a bear named Winnie the Pooh, and his friends in the 100 Acre Wood.
Milne was highly educated, first studying at London’s private school, Henley House. One of his teachers was H.G. Wells, the science fiction writer. They would later become great friends. Gifted in math, Milne won a scholarship to Westminster. He then went on to Trinity College in Cambridge, where he earned a degree in mathematics. At Cambridge, Alan and his brother, Ken, were published in the Granta, and later Alan became the editor of Granta.
After school, Alan was a freelance writer for a newspaper in London. In 1905, he wrote his first book entitled Lovers in London, which was a flop. He got a job writing articles for Punch Magazine. The owner of Punch later offered Milne a job as the assistant editor. The owner introduced Milne to his God-daughter, Dorothy “Daphne” de Selincourt. Milne and Daphne were married in 1913. Milne began writing plays, poetry and even a detective novel.
Milne was in the army from February, 1915 through February, 1919. He was a signals officer in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. The horrors of war made him nostalgic for the carefree days of childhood. When returned home from the war, he resigned from Punch and began writing plays and children’s poems. The poems were published in several magazines.
In 1920, Daphne and Alan had a son and named him Christopher Robin. He would be their only child.
Since Milne’s poems for children were such a success in magazines, in 1924, he published a collection of them in a book entitled When We Were Young. The book was a huge success, selling over 50,000 copies within two months. Due to its great success, Milne continued writing books for children. Young Christopher had a stuffed bear named Edward, later renamed Winnie the Pooh after a black bear by the name of Winnie that lived at the London Zoo. Using his son’s toys as inspiration, Milne wrote Winnie the Pooh in 1926, followed by Now We Are Six in 1927, and The House at Pooh Corner in 1928.
Milne’s stories of Winnie the Pooh weren’t actually written for children, but for the child in all of us. He always said that his wife gave him the ideas for the stories. While Milne wrote a variety of books, at least 30 plays, and several essays in his lifetime, many of which were successful, that “bear of very little brain” undoubtedly made him famous. By 1956, over 7 million copies of the books had been sold, and today, they have been translated into almost every language. Winnie the Pooh Day is celebrated each year on Milne’s birthday. That lovable, silly bear and his friends in the 100 Acre Wood are loved by children and adults alike and have been ever since their creation.
In October, 1952, Milne suffered a stroke and had a brain operation. He survived the operation, but became an invalid. He spent the remainder of his life at his home in Suffix. He died on January 31, 1956. In 1961, Daphne Milne sold the rights to the Winnie the Pooh characters to the Walt Disney Company.