AA Milne was a humorist and playwright who is remembered for his children's books featuring Winnie-the-Pooh in Ashdown Forest.
Where Milne lived
Alan Alexander Milne was born in 1882 at Henley House, a private school run by his father in London. When he was 8 years old his first article appeared in the school magazine, describing a walking tour of Sussex and Ashdown Forest.
After his education at Westminster School and Cambridge University, Milne began his career writing for newspapers and magazines. He became an assistant editor for humorous magazine Punch in 1906. Despite being a pacifist, during World War I he joined the army and fought in France. It was while he was in the army that he began writing plays, and his first big hit was 'Mr Pim Passes By' which was staged in London and New York.
Milne had married Daphne de Selincourt in 1913. Their son Christopher Robin Milne was born in 1920 and was known to the family as Billy Moon. In 1925, the family bought Cotchford Farm near Hartfield as a weekend and holiday home. They moved there permanently in 1940. The surrounding Ashdown Forest became the setting for Milne's stories inspired by his son and his toy animals.
In 1952 Milne suffered a stroke and died four years later in 1956. Disney released the first animated film on Pooh stories in 1966.
Sussex in Milne's books
Christopher Milne was given a teddy bear for his first birthday called Edward Bear. It was renamed Winnie-the-Pooh after a Canadian black bear at London Zoo called Winnipeg and a swan in West Sussex called Pooh. Rabbit and Owl were also real animals near Cotchford Farm, while Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger, Kanga and Roo were more of Christopher's stuffed toys.
In Ashdown Forest you can find the places where Christopher Robin and his friends have their adventures, including Roo's sandpit and the North Pole. Owl's tree in Hundred Acre Wood was really a beech tree in 500 Acre Wood. When it blew down in a storm, Milne wrote a story about it.
Near Gill's Lap you can find the group of trees which form an 'enchanted place' on the Top of the Forest, called Galleon's Lap in the books. Poohsticks Bridge was originally called Posingford Bridge and was built in 1907. It can be found in Posingford Wood near Upper Hartfield. Disney helped fund repairs to the bridge in 1999.
Illustrator EH Shepard – who also worked for Punch – drew the pictures for the Pooh stories. He based them on his own son's teddy bear, Growler, and sketches of Ashdown Forest made on a visit to Cotchford Farm. A memorial to Milne and Shepard can be found near the 'enchanted place'.
To visit the places from the Pooh stories, download a map from the Ashdown Forest website or take a tour of Pooh Country.
Get books by and about AA Milne
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Books by AA Milne
Books about AA Milne
Books by Christopher Milne
Find other books by Milne or biographies about the author on our E-library online catalogue.
A A Milne's play ‘Mr Pim Passes By' can be read online at Project Gutenberg