Winnie the Pooh Day

While I missed Winnie the Pooh Day last year, I made up for it by devoting October to looking at all the grand things about the silly old bear and celebrate his 90th birthday. I covered everything from the books, Milne himself, Shephard’s illustrations, and a range of other wonderful Pooh related things. If you would like to revisit all of these posts you can do so here.

Though this day has often been a recognition of the bear himself, Winnie the Pooh Day is such because it is author A. A. Milne’s birthday. Last year I made a brief post about Milne, his life is one of surprise when you realise just how small a role Winnie the Pooh really played. He wrote so many other wonderful things it’s sad his other works are not more widely recognised.

One of the things he wrote was his autobiography. Published in 1939 by Methuen, it stayed in print for 8 years. Now, 70 years later, it is being republished. The autobiography is called It’s Too Late Now: The Autobiography of a Writer and was republished in September last year by Bello. It covers numerous stages of his life, from his childhood, growing up, and his numerous careers including his time as a freelancer, a soldier, and an author. This of course also ties into the new film about Milne and his son, Goodbye, Christopher Robin which was recently released.

There is a wonderful article in The Guardian about Milne and his autobiography that may interest you, I would also certainly suggest seeing the film, or better yet reading the book Goodbye, Christopher Robin by Ann Thwaite which tells the true story that inspired the film. Ann Thwaite is also the author of an acclaimed biography of Milne titled, A. A. Milne: His Life where much of the story is drawn from.

The story of the two Milne’s is interesting but often sad, neither father nor son seemed joyous about their success and association with Winnie the Pooh, and it is a sad fact to know because of how much joy it brings me personally and millions of others. Of course, the Bear of the books is not the Bear of the Disney films, but there is still an essence of that original idea from Milne about a boy and his bear that is everlasting. It’s wonderful to be reminded each Winnie the Pooh Day how Milne’s work has not been forgotten, even if it has been altered over time. There is still so much joy to be had from those original stories and many lessons which can be learnt.

If you are up for an adventure, one way to celebrate Winnie the Pooh Day if you are in the East Sussex area is head over to Pooh Corner in Hartfield. You can play a game of Pooh Sticks, see the infamous bridge where Christopher Robin and Pooh play, have tea and snacks in Piglet’s tearoom, or go on a grand adventure as you follow the character’s footsteps through the woods. Or, for those of us who are less adventurous, curl up with a good book, may it be a biography, poetry, or story, and discover the wonder of Milne’s words and wisdom, and rediscover the magic of that silly old bear.







Misquotes and Misattribution

I’ve mentioned in previous posts over the years the inaccuracies between quotes attributed to Milne and Winnie the Pooh. For some reason Milne has become the new Mark Twain where quotes become their’s whether or not they actually are. I probably helped spread some of these wrong quotes in past posts but I try to correct them when I realise.

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Not a quote from Milne

I have a few theories on how these wrong quotes get spread around. Aside from Milne getting credit when a line is spoken in a Disney film, another theory is that people were placing quotes over Winnie the Pooh pictures and that started it, or maybe they think things sound like a Milne quote and they aren’t.

Websites like MyTownTutors that have ‘Great A. A. Milne Quotes‘ are great and all but the fact that barley any of those quotes are actually from Milne is only perpetuating these misquotes. Thankfully people on the internet have done some of the work for me so I don’t need to spend a week checking them all. Of the 59 listed on the MyTownTutors website only 14 were from ANY of the four Milne books. Another dozen or so were paraphrased or variations on the real quote. The rest weren’t Disney or Milne. One I know to be false is “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” Not Milne or Disney but a 1975 movie..

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Not Milne, actually from Disney’s Pooh’s Grand Adventure

This Buzzfeed quiz tests your knowledge of Pooh against other great quotes. The only problem is, none of those attributed to Pooh are actually from Milne. There is one that comes close, paraphrased incredibly but as close as the rest get. The popular quote “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day” is simplified a bit from the House at Pooh Corner quote “By the time it came to the edge of the Forest, the stream had grown up, so that it was almost a river, and being grown-up, it did not run and jump and sparkle along as it used to do when it was younger, but moved more slowly. For it knew now where it was going, and it said to itself, “There is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”

There was even a Quotation Audit done to Winnie the Pooh’s Goodreads page that assessed what was correct attribution and what wasn’t. The result was that 14 quotes (just over one fifth of all those listed) that were not from any Milne publication nor Disney movie. Then the rest were from House at Pooh Corner, a different book entirely, but at least it was a Milne work.

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Not a Milne or Disney

There is a list of Essential and Authentic Milne Quotes that are just as beautiful and funny as the incorrect ones. I’m not sure if there is a way to stop the spread of misattribution, but it’s not for lack of trying. There are a few sites dedicated to clearing up this confusion. I’ve mentioned Pooh Misquoted in the past, and the DailyKos page is another good one that tries to weed out the true from the not. They are few and far between but a great source to make clear Milne didn’t write every single Pooh quote, nor as it turns out, has Disney.

As the wise Abraham Lincoln once said:

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Return to the Hundred Acre Woods by David Benedictus

80 years after the original books were published, a third official Winnie-the-Pooh book was released in 2009, taking readers back to the Hundred Acre Woods and back to Winnie-the-Pooh.

Written by David Benedictus and illustrated by Mark Burgess, the story is in the style of Milne and Shepard and aims to capture the next stage in the life of Christopher Robin and his toys. Picking up where House at Pooh Corner ended, Benedictus’ stories bring the magic of Milne’s writing to life again with a new set of adventures.

There are some surprises, one of them being a new character is introduced; a friend called Lottie the Otter comes to the Hundred Acre Woods. Lottie is described as being feisty and, according to Benedictus, she “truly embodies Winnie-the-Pooh’s values of friendship and adventure seen throughout Milne’s work, thus making the perfect companion for everyone’s favourite bear”.

Benedictus is no stranger to Winnie-the-Pooh stories, having written two short stories of his own in the mid-1990s. Benedictus submitted his short stories to the Milne estate but was told they could not be published because Disney owned all the rights. Ten years later however, the sequel rights had returned to the trustees and Benedictus was asked to make some changes to a story he had already submitted and to write some more.

Image result for mark burgess winnie the poohThe estates of both Milne and Shepard had been searching for a sequel for years, wanting to find one that did the originals justice. This is what Benedictus has produced; ten new stories with the same much loved characters that reflect all that embodies Milne’s originals, including over 100 gorgeous new illustrations.

I was originally wary when I first heard about this sequel, but seeing both men try so hard to capture the original Milne and Shepard spirit, it’s an absolute delight to be able to return to these beautiful characters again for all new adventures.



Now We Are Six by A. A. Milne

Image result for now we are sixPublished in 1927 this is the third children’s book by Milne, published after the success of Winnie the Pooh. Now We Are Six contains thirty five verses, with more E. H. Shepard illustrations to accompany them.

The poems have inspired many others; around 1930 Mimi Crawford recorded several poems with music by Harold Fraser-Simson, the title is played upon with the 2003 book Now We Are Sixty, and an anthology by Neil Gaiman called Now We Are Sick. The short “A Poem Is…” was also inspired by one of Milne’s poems entitled “Us Two”.

Illustrations of Winnie the Pooh accompany 11 of the poems, and he is a much stronger focus than he was in the earlier poetry book.

Both this book plus When We Were Very Young were popular during the 1920s and 1930s, and popularity surged again after Milne’s death. Christopher Robin even recorded some of the poems at the suggestion of his mother; this however resulted in incredible bullying for Christopher Robin at school.

Below is a full list of the poems included in this book. You can read these poems and more here.

King John’s Christmas
Cherry Stones
The Knight Whose Armour Didn’t Squeak
Buttercup Days
The Charcoal-Burner
Us Two
The Old Sailor
The Engineer
Journey’s End
Furry Bear
The Emperor’s Rhyme
Come Out with Me
Down by the Pond
The Little Black Hen
The Friend
The Good Little Girl
A Thought
King Hilary and The Beggarman
Swing Song
Twice Times
The Morning Walk
Cradle Song
Waiting at The Window
Pinkle Purr
Wind on the Hill
In The Dark
The End

Who Was A. A. Milne?

Image result for a. a. milneA. A. Milne is a name synonymous with Winnie the Pooh, it’s my first thought when I hear his name certainly. But Milne was much more than just the author of children stories.

Alan Alexander Milne was born 18 January 1882 to parents John Vine Milne and Sarah Marie Heginbotham. He grew up at Henley House School, a school which his father ran, and interestingly was taught by H. G. Wells who was a teacher there for a short time.

After finishing school and university, Milne wrote and contributed for numerous magazines, gaining the attention of the humour magazine Punch where he submitted poems and stories before joining the staff as assistant editor a few years later.

Milne married Dorothy “Daphne” de Sélincourt in 1913 and his son, Christopher Robin, was born in 1920 and Milne started writing poems and stories about him and his toys when he was around 4 years old.

The success of Winnie the Pooh has overshadowed much of Milne’s life, not only his service in both World Wars, but also the fact that he was an established author before and after Winnie the Pooh. Milne wrote novels and non-fiction as well as poems, plays and screenplays and other short story collections. He was an early screenwriter for the emerging British film industry and when he wasn’t writing, even played for the amateur English cricket team the Allahakberries alongside authors J. M. Barrie and Arthur Conan Doyle and a host of other famous figures. A full list of his published works can be found here.

Sadly, the wonderful and successful life of Milne is dampened by the fact a stroke and brain surgery in 1952 left him an invalid. Milne died a few years later in 1956 when he was 74 years old. Of course his name and his creations in Pooh Bear will live on forever, and even though he was not that impressed by being only really known for his children’s stories, I like to think he was glad in a way to have made such an impact when he said “I suppose that every one of us hopes secretly for immortality; to leave, I mean, a name behind him which will live forever in this world, whatever he may be doing, himself, in the next.” Looking at the everlasting success of Winnie the Pooh I think Milne’s immortality is set in stone.

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