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Milne, Alan Alexander

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The English humourist and author A. A. Milne was born in London on 18 January 1882, the son of John Vince and Sarah Marie Milne. His father owned a private school called Henley House, in Mortimer Road, where Alan and his brothers David Barrett Milne and Kenneth John Milne were first educated. Among the teachers for a while was H. G. Wells. Milne took a BA in mathematics (1903) at Trinity College, Cambridge, and then, assisted by a gift of £1000 from his father, he set off for London to become a free-lance writer. In 1905 his first book, “Lovers in London”, appeared. In the First World War Milne served in France as a signal officer in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Upon his return he wrote the plays “The Dover Road” and “Mr Pim Passes By” and the detective story “The Red House Mystery”. But it was as a writer of verses and stories for children that he achieved his lasting fame, with “When We Were Very Young” (1924), “Winnie-the-Pooh” (1926), “Now We Are Six” (1927), and “The House at Pooh Corner” (1928), the latter two with illustrations by Ernest Shepard and dealing with the adventures of Christopher Robin. The stories were inspired by the real Christopher Robin Milne, the son that was born to A. A. Milne and his wife Dorothy de Selincourt on 21 August 1920. Unhappily, the son remained estranged from his father and mother during his adult life. In 1929 Milne wrote “Toad Hall”, based on Kenneth Grahame’s “The Wind in the Willows”. His last book was “Year In, Year Out” (1952). He published his autobiography, “It’s Too Late Now”, in 1938. In October 1952, Milne suffered a stroke that incapacitated him until his death on 31 January 1956 at Hartfield, Sussex. He had joined the Garrick Club in May 1919. Christopher Robin Milne wrote of his father, ‘He knew about me, he knew about himself, he knew about the Garrick Club – he was ignorant about anything else. except, perhaps, about life.’ For years the Garrick Club received royalties bequeathed by A. A. Milne from his writings. Recently the Club received a substantial settlement when Disney Corporation bought the rights to the Pooh stories and characters. A number of books have been written about Milne, among them “A. A. Milne, a Critical Biography” by Tori Haring-Smith (1982) and “A. A. Milne: the Man Behind Winnie-the-Pooh” by A. Thwaite (1990).
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