The four Pooh books created by A. A. Milne and Ernest H. Shepard have long been cherished by children and adults. These stories - starring the round, endearing Bear of Little Brain and his friends Piglet, Eeyore, Christopher Robin, and others - are as popular today as when they first enchanted readers more than seventy years ago.
The adventures of Christopher Robin and his friends, in which Pooh Bear uses a balloon to get honey, Piglet meets a Heffalump, and Eeyore has a birthday.inter and fellow student at the Academy. The Shepards had two children: Graham, who was killed in World War II, and Mary, who later illustrated Mary L. Travers Mary Poppins books.
When World War I broke out, Shepard served in France, Belgium, and Italy, attaining the rank of Major. On his return to England, he continued with his art. He became a regular contributor to Punch, the classic British humor magazine, where he met A. A. Milne, a man who was to be instrumental to his career. Shepard was elected to the editorial board of Punch, and shortly thereafter, he agreed to do the illustrations for Milnes first book of verse, When We Were Very Young.
The illustrations that Shepard created for all four of the Pooh books received worldwide acclaim. For the next thirty years, he continued to illustrate books for both adults and children. In 1973, for the first time, he added color to his drawings for Winnie-the-Pooh. Shepard ultimately donated several hundred drawings to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Ernest H. Shepard continued to pursue his love of drawing until his death in 1976. copyright © 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.
It seems strange that A. A. Milne would have not have wanted to be associated with one of literature’s most beloved characters. Having achieved some success as a playwright and novelist, he aspired to be more than only an author of children’s books. However, Milne’s books — Winnie-the-Pooh, The House at Pooh Corner, and the verse collections When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six — are hardly typical of most stories for kids. They remain among the smartest of the genre, and were likely written as much for himself as for his young son, Christopher. Infused with a sly wit, they contain humor that only an adult can appreciate; indeed, some of the poems in When We Were Very Young first appeared in the satiric magazine Punch, where Milne was an editor. Rendered by illustrator Ernest H. Shepard in quaint, warm watercolors, Pooh and friends Tigger, Kanga, Roo, Owl, Eeyore, and Piglet star in stories about playing games and helping friends in and around their home near “100-Aker Wood.” In one instance of Milne’s ironic humor, a sign outside Owl’s residence reading “PLES RING IF AN RNSER IS REQIRD” is attributed to Pooh’s boy companion Christoper Robin, “who was the only one in the forest who could spell.” The books are written with sophistication and a certain amount of dry British wit, employing turns of phrase (“customary procedure,” “general remarks”) not usually found in children’s stories. The volumes of verse range over a wider collection of themes, with Pooh appearing in just a few poems. Most of them offer a young person’s perspective on subjects such as imaginary friends, feigning illness, and going to the zoo; and it’s evident how Milne’s work prefigures that of Dr. Seuss (From Going to the Zoo: “There are biffalo-buffalo-bisons/A great big bear with wings/There’s sort of a tiny potamus/A tiny nossarus too”). Other poems feature cowardly knights, buffoonish Sirs, and other fantasy figures. Little of Milne’s work for adults, which included the autobiography Year In, Year Out and his first novel, Lovers in London, can be easily found in print. One adult title, however, is still being published: the pleasing Gosford Park-style Red House Mystery. Pooh, meanwhile, continues to grow as a powerful franchise, with modern-day titles, animation, and games that are almost as delightful as Milne’s original texts — but not quite.
Good To Know
Milne did not set out with any particular desire to write for children: The Pooh books were originally intended for the real Christopher Robin, Milne’s son. Milne’s teacher and mentor was the scientist and writer H.G. Wells. He edited Cambridge’s undergrad paper, Granta, and was later the assistant editor of Punch. Milne wrote several plays that are no longer published, but were once quite popular, including as Mr. Pim Passes By and the Kenneth Grahame adaptation Toad of Toad Hall.