Born in London in 1882, Milne showed an early interest in writing, contributing to a student magazine while attending Trinity College of the University of Cambridge. After graduation, Milne wrote articles for a British humor magazine called “Punch” and later became the publication’s assistant editor. As a young author, Milne gained a reputation as a notable playwright and novelist for adults. He also wrote several stories which were made into British films.
After the birth of Milne’s only son in 1920, the author’s career path began moving in a different direction. His first book for children – a poetry collection called “When We Were Very Young” – was published in 1924. The fictional teddy bear in one of those poems would become Milne’s most lasting legacy. The book “Winnie-the-Pooh” was published in 1926 and “The House at Pooh Corner” in 1928. “Now We Are Six,” a nursery rhyme collection published in 1927, also included verses featuring the amiable Pooh.
Winnie-the-Pooh was inspired by a stuffed toy that Milne’s son, Christopher Robin, received for his first birthday. Milne’s toddler son was the namesake for Pooh Bear’s fictional young friend in the books. The rest of the memorable cast of animal characters also were named after stuffed toys in the boy’s nursery. These included the pessimistic Eeyore, the bouncy Tigger, and a kangaroo and her baby, Kanga and Roo. The toys can still be seen on display in the Children’s Room at a branch of the New York Public Library.
Winnie-the-Pooh’s charm and simple wisdom were a big hit with readers. The honey-loving Pooh Bear talked about love, patience, thoughtfulness and even exercise in words that still ring true today. The original “Winnie-the-Pooh” book has been translated into 25 languages and has become a childhood favorite for people around the world. The Walt Disney Company has produced Pooh cartoon movies and a Disney Channel television show. Some of Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh poems also have been turned into songs.
Milne continued to write on other topics throughout his life, but those writings were largely overshadowed by his work in children’s literature. During his lifetime, Milne wrote more than 30 plays, seven novels, and several non-fiction books. He died an invalid in 1956 after suffering a stroke a few years earlier.