Every now and then I pontificate on the power and magic of words. Those twenty-six little letters have faithfully served us ever since “Adam” said Ugg to “Eve.” And, in what variety! True and Fairy tales… Sci-Fi and Paranormal, Murder and Mystery, Love and Romance, Historical, et al – all cater to different literary tastes.
What led to writing today’s post was reading about Alan Alexander Milne and his Pooh stories. The House on Pooh Corner (1928), and Winnie the Pooh in particular. Without Milne, Pooh, Piglet, Tigger and the rest of the gang, would have been lost to so many fans. Christopher Robin, Pooh’s human companion, was named after Milne’s own son. Sadly, Christopher was not happy about his inescapable connection to the popular books as he grew older. Winnie the Pooh was based on his teddy bear. Also on his infant bed, were a stuffed piglet, a tiger, a pair of kangaroos and a downtrodden donkey. (Owl and Rabbit were added for good measure.) Hundred Acre Wood closely resembles Ashdown Forest near to Milne’s home.
Milne went to Cambridge University to study maths but focused on writing. He pursued a career as a writer and contributed many humorous pieces to Punch magazine, later becoming Assistant Editor at Punch in 1906. Having served in WW11, despite being a Pacifist, he suffered illness and was declared unfit for service at the front, going on to join a secret British Propaganda unit: M17b. He also turned to playwriting. Deemed successful, he changed Wind in the Willows into the acclaimed Toad at Toad Hall.
It seems especially sad that Milne was estranged from his son, Christopher, who rarely saw his father, despite him having a stroke and spending his last few years in a wheelchair. He was ever conscious of his disliked association with the Pooh books. I feel it was his great loss.
When I read the Pooh books, way back, I knew nothing of their creator, but re-quoting some of the content, I can’t help thinking he was a man with his heart in the right place.
I had the warmest glow, when I read:
“My spelling is wobbly. It’s good spelling. But it wobbles and the letters get in the wrong places.”
And “A day without a friend is like a pot without a single drop of honey inside.” And
“I always get to where I’m going by walking away from where I have been.” And
“We’ll be friends forever, won’t we, Pooh?” asked Piglet.
“Even longer.” Pooh answered.
And, this one made me cry…
“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.”
Thank you Mr. Milne. Very much!
Other books by AA Milne: When we Were very Young, Now we are Six, The World of Pooh Collection, The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh.
© Copyright Joy Lennick 2020
Mr. A.A. Milne’s creativity enriched many childrens lives. I love the quotes you shared, Joy- some of my favorites!
I love Pooh Bear, Joy, such wonderful books. I have read them many times. Such a same about the author’s son. I think it was rather mean of him to reject his father like that. I hope Michael never feels upset about our books. He is the MC in Silly Willy goes to Cape Town too. I changed the name to Willy from Michael at the last minute.
Thanks, Roberta, So lovable wasn’t he?! A sad personal story…I’m quite sure that your Michael/Willy is different and loving. More good luck with the books. Hugs xx
A great post Joy! I too loved reading the Winnie the Pooh books to my children. The bear was actually named after Winnipeg, Canada, where a bear had been found in a zoo and later taken to the UK. I just recently watched a movie called Goodbye Christopher Robin which was very good. A British actor, Domhnall Gleeson played AA Miln. Fame and fortune have ruined many family relationships which is sad. Perhaps it is good we have never become too famous!
Yes we enjoyed that film the other evening on TV and I did suggest to my daughter that her little boys would look cute with Christopher Robin haircuts and I could make them some smocks…. If the film was accurate they certainly went over the top using the child for publicity.
I watched Goodbye Christopher Robin recently as well. It was sad to watch the father and son relationship deteriorate.
Thank you, Darlene. I wouldn’t have made a very convincing ‘famous’ person….A tiny bit,maybe but it wouldn’t sit comfortably on me. It often demands a high price too..Didn’t know Winnie was named after Winnipeg. x
I didn’t know about Milne’s estrangement from his son, Joy. What a huge loss that the magic of those tales wasn’t understood by Christopher. It’s so sad. I would have been delighted and honored to be the inspiration for those immortal stories. I still love them.
Yes, wasn’t it sad, Diana! I had the strongest feeling that AA Milne had a large heart. x
I don’t know if he could have written those stories without one.
Such a lovely piece, Joy! So sad, about his son, who sounds very short-sighted and selfish. I wonder if he was ever sorry…
Yes, I felt really sad for Christopher’s father. I loved his work. All heart. Thank you. x
Thanks, Joy. This a touching tribute. I haven’t read the Pooh books for many a year, but maybe it’s time to revisit them.
Thanks Kathy, I found them so touching and delightful. x
Joy, as another fan of Winnie the Pooh books I loved reading your post. The books are timeless and classic! I never realised there was such an estrangement between father and son because of the books – how sad. After all, they are so full of love and humanity – nearly every sentence a wise quote in itself!
Amazing story how Milne’s Pooh became a classic but separated him from his own son. So sad. And yes, that last quote gets under the skin Joy. Beautiful. ❤ xxx
Hi Debs, Thank you. All so touching. Aah! xx
Yes, and a tad sad xxx
I so agree, Annika. Milne’s delightful tales are timeless. Thanks for reading. X
Hi Joy. I bet that his books are popular to this day. They are wise and touching and charming.
Gracias, Neil, Real, ‘feel.good’ stories…So heart-warming. x
A lovely post Joy and you are so right…those twenty-six words have stood us in good stead, especially in the hands of wonderful writers like A.A. Milne.. hugs will reblog the post for Wednesday evening on my blog..hugsx
Dear Sally, You’ll have to get a large “Thanks!” drawer/cupboard….. xx
We were brought up on the books and regularly quoted from it. The appeal is wide. As a teenager at a youth group camp in Australia one of the chaps read a chapter every morning over breakfast and everybody loved it. I do wish Pooh and friends had not been Disneyfied though; EH Shepherd’s illustrations are all we ever needed. However I do have to mention that my second date with Cyberspouse was to see a Disney Winnie the Pooh film at a cinema in Hounslow West – you can’t get more sophisticated than that!
Thank you Tidalscribe. I didn’t see the Disney film, but always found Alan Milne’s words a delight. As you say, the illustrations were spot on.
I was very unhappy was Pooh was Disneyfied.
‘Vespers’ is one of my favourite poems, especially when sung and my Mum and Dad used to read the stories to us as children. I still love playing ‘Pooh sticks’. I often think of A.A. Milne’s words and share them with loved ones. The situation with his son felt complex and it’s hard to feel the sadness behind the books that bring such joy still. ❤
Hi Jane, Hope you are keeping well. Isn’t it just wonderful how so many writer’s words endure and still really mean so much year upon year! Most heart-warming. xx
I just love the quote “I always get to where I’m going by walking away from where I have been.” So apt for so many situations. Vespers and Disobedience are my two favourite AA Milne poems. And so sad his son didn’t love being the inspiration for them!
Hi Tandy, That’s one of my favourites too. It’s very “Irish.” Another of theirs is “If you ran any faster, you’d meet yourself coming back.”. Great that, after so many years, Alan Milne’s words are sill appreciated. x
How sad for AA Milne to lose in son by writing him into a book. I’m sure he did it to honour, not destroy him. Those books are loved by readers of all ages everywhere. The quotes you share are amazing. The stories have helped form loving hearts around the world. And that photograph at the top of your post – it’s beyond words!
Good hearing from you, Norah. Thanks for reading. So heart–warming! x
Another lovely piece, Joy x
Thank you, Ruth. We hope to meet the second Monday in July at The Friendly Cafe, but NOT in August. Recommencing in September. Do hope you can make it and are well. Best wishes. Joy x.
To this day, Winnie the Pooh remains one of my favorite characters in all of literature. He is such a kind and gentle soul
Hi Liz, I do agree. He really ‘spoke’ to so many. x
Yes Joy a beautiful post, I always love all of AA Milne’s books. Though I do question him using his son so blatantly for publicity. It may well of caused him angst at school and in later life. We should never use loved ones for profit. Like you I believe Milne must of loved his son and had a kind heart. I can’t blame the son though it could of opened him up to ridicule … We never know how much we can affect our children/ loved ones by writing about them ..
It becomes personal dosen’t it. That said beautiful books, and a lovely article by you.💜💜
Hi Willow, Thank you for reading. I don’t know what the truth of the matter was, but – judging by the words and sentiments A Milne expressed – I somehow felt the stories were told with strong affection rather than for pure profit.It’s still sad, whichever way one looks at it! Hugs xx
What a wonderful post, Joy!! It is sad that his son never liked his association with Pooh. How much he missed! Your excerpts from the books are just perfect. There is a terrific children’s book on the true story of Winnie the Pooh, which I will write about when I reblog your post. Many thanks, and best to you, Joy.
Why, thank you, Jennie. How lovely it must have been to be one of your pupils! I loved story no. 1. Don’t know if I ever told you, but – towards the end of my working life – I was a ‘dinner lady’ at the school opposite my home in the U.K.I also helped at a poetry class,(which, surprisingly, some of the naughtiest boys attended). I also helped a few lads at my home (I have three of my own.)..I loved it and have often wondered about them. I received an email from one (the shyest) who went to Uni and has since won prizes for his innovative electronic stage scenery. He thanked me for “you patience.” Wasn’t that sweet! xx
I have both Winnie-the-Pooh books plus When We Were Young and Now We Are Six. I loved them myself as a child and they came out of retirement for my children and then again for my granchildren. We all love these books – there’s a sweet, gentle philosophy running through them and the children happily chant the poems such as Disobedience or Halfway Up the Stairs because the words have a rhythm and a magic to them. I’ll have James James Morrison Morrison running through my head all night now! Thanks for reminding me of this.
Thank you for reading, Alex. Good to ‘meet’ you. As you wrote, there’s such a gentle philosophy in Milne’s delightful stories. They will never grow stale! Best wishes.
Thank you very much for remembering this. Its a shame, but A.A. Milne as author of the Pooh-stories was new to me. Michael
Thank for reading, Michael. Such gentle, winsome philosophy!
He was a such a philosopher. There’s a sad irony that Milne meant so much to so many.
Thanks for reading and commenting, Crystal. Yes, A sad Irony indeed.
Reblogged this on A Teacher's Reflections and commented:
Winnie the Pooh stories are among the few classics that should be read as a child and also as an adult. The messages and tender words ‘stick’. The characters are beloved.
I was thrilled to discover the book, “Finding Winnie”, by Lindsay Mattick.
This is the true story of Winnie the Pooh, the bear that became famous in WWI before he went to the London zoo. It is captivating, with real photos and beautiful illustrations. The reader is immediately drawn to the soldier Harry Colebourn on the train in Canada to fight in the war, and finding a bear cub.
Joy Lennick’s delightful post opens the door to author A.A. Milne, his son, and Pooh’s many animal companions. The ending is some of the best words in the stories. These quotes have become words to live by.
Thanks, Jennie. I must check out “Finding Winnie” by Lindsay Mattick.Some of Alan Milne’s words and expressions are so endearingly heart-reaching they almost hurt… Best wishes. x
Me again, Jennie. Thank you so much for the appreciated ‘airing.’ You’re most kind. Hugs xx
Such a charming classic. Who hasn’t been enamored with Pooh and his friends? Especially Tigger!
And Eyore. Anyway, I haven’t seen the film about A.A. Milne’s childhood life. As you say, it wasn’t a happy story. My! How many authors create a fantasy world to escape from the real one? It’s a bittersweet tale.
Thank you for reading, Cindy. Always a favourite…Will ‘nosey’ on your site. Best wishes. .
Ah Joy how we all owe a debt to Pooh. What a sumptuous post. Every time i walk in Ashdown Forest I try either to include a visit to the memorial with EH Shepherd drawings or a session of pooh sticks. One sadness for me, beyond the tragic estrangement was learning of the bitter dispute between AA Milne and PH Wodehouse another favourite of mine. Never meet or learn about your heroes. My favourite poohism that has served me well throughout adult life but especially now is ‘sometimes I sits and thinks and sometimes I just sits’.
Thank you for reading and very kind comments. Yes, I also read about the dispute between Milne and Wodehouse. I ‘meet’ and ‘have met’ so many inspiring, absolutely lovely, people since posting my blogs, it’s so easy to believe everything is ‘honey and sunshine’ (even while knowing it bloody-well isn’t…) Illusion can be a temporarily comforting, if false, phenomenon! I must admit, Milne’s simple philosophy gets me every time. Take care.
PS Now I’m ancient, I fully appreciate “Sometimes I sits and thinks and sometimes I just sits.” Magic. x
I, too, absolutely love Winnie the Pooh stories and poems. I quoted them endlessly to the grandsons when they were younger and read them the stories – and I’ll be dusting off the books for my baby granddaughter when she is old enough!
I just noticed that I didn’t thank you for reading and commenting last year!I How remiss of me…Heart-warming amid the angst! x
As usual Joy, you write with such love and passion, it really shines off the page. Keep on writing, I always learn so much from you.
Thanks, Georgia, We all learn from each other,don’t we?! Which is rather nice…x
Thanks for this biography and the wonderful quotes.
Thanks for reading and commenting on my post, Geri. Good to ‘meet’ you. I’m sure you will be very happy in your new home in Missouri. You sound a very creative, talented lady with a needle! And what a dear little dog you have. Cheers! Best wishes. Joy x
Hi Joy, I am visiting from Sally Cronin’s site. I love everything about this post. I especially like the quote “My spelling is wobbly. It’s good spelling. But it wobbles and the letters get in the wrong places.” Beautiful message on how we do not have to be perfect, yet the Pooh books make a huge difference in many people’s lives. I am happy our paths have crossed. 🙂
Thank you so much, Erica. It really gets you where it matters, doesn’t it! Will explore your site further. Take care. x
Lovely, Joy. And heart-warming quotes!
Thank you, Steve. Cheers! x