Best known for his books about the bumbling teddy, Winnie-the-Pooh a “bear of very little brain”, AA Milne is a household name in children’s literature and poetry. On the authors birthday – 18 January – Pooh is honoured every year.
Soulful, inspiring and life-affirming quotes have been lifted from the pages of these children’s classics and shared time and time again. It’s no surprise then, that AA Milne’s simple yet powerful words have had a lasting legacy on generation after generation.
While his success can be accredited to the books he wrote for his son, Christopher Robin, he was also a successful playwright, penning adaptations of favourites, including turning The Wind in the Willows into the popular Toad at Toad Hall.
But without Milne, some of our all-time favourite characters, Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger and the rest of the gang would never have been realised.
And we’ve got artist EH Shepard to thank for bringing them all to life through his instantly recognisable illustrations. His creations vividly capture the comic interactions between the characters, as well as their unique personalities and friendships, which continue to evoke feelings of nostalgia, a sense of cosiness and comfort.
In honour of the author's birthday, we take a look back at some of his very best novels and poetry books.
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‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ by AA Milne, published by Egmont
As the author’s world-famous story, this is a masterpiece in children’s literature and reflects the power of a child’s imagination like no other. Written for his son Christopher Robin, this story is set in the Hundred Acre Wood and brings to life Christopher's favourite teddy bear, Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends Piglet, Owl and the ever doleful Eeyore. Following their adventures, from when Piglet and Pooh try to trap a Heffalump to when Eeyore loses his tail and Pooh sets out to find it, Winnie-the-Pooh is packed full of timeless wisdom and words that will resonate with you whatever your age. Our favourite quote? Piglet: “How do you spell love?” Pooh: “You don’t spell it, you feel it.”
‘The House at Pooh Corner’ by AA.Milne, published by Egmont
In this second edition about Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends in the famous woods, we meet the boisterous and exuberant Tigger who has an affinity for bouncing and often introduces himself by announcing the proper way to spell his name “T-I-double-guh-err”. Hints that Christopher Robin is growing up are scattered throughout this novel and finally come to head in the final chapter when the characters throw him a farewell party after they discover he has to leave them soon. With the final line as poignant as all the others: "Wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the forest, a little boy and his bear will always be playing".
‘When We Were Very Young’ by AA Milne, published by Egmont
The first volume of poetry for children, When We Were Very Young serves up the same heart-warming level of humour, imagination and whimsy as the novels that preceded it. The book begins with an introduction titled “Just Before We Begin”, prompting readers to imagine who the narrator is. With more than 30 poems, this is the perfect antidote for trying times.
‘Now We Are Six’ by AA Milne, published by Egmont
In a continuation of poetry, AA Milne’s Now We Are Six is an exploration of childhood through the eyes of six-year-old Christopher Robin and sees Pooh helping him with his schoolwork. With beautiful illustrations by EH Shepard, this is a tome to cherish now and pass down through the generations for years to come.
‘It’s Too Late Now: The Autobiography of a Writer’ by AA Milne, published by Bello
Packed with Milne’s characteristic self-deprecating humour, It’s Too Late Now is an autobiography that recalls his life from a happy childhood to penning his children’s novels and poems. Touching on meeting famous authors, such as HG Wells, JM Barrie, and Rudyard Kipling, as well as his scorn with Dorothy Parker after she wrote a scathing review of The House at Pooh Corner in the New Yorker. Deemed a fascinating and insightful read into one of the greatest authors of our time.
‘The Red House Mystery’ by AA Milne, published by Vintage Publishing
Taking you far away from the gentle happenings of Hundred Acre Wood comes The Red House Mystery, AA Milne’s whodunnit detective story that uncovers a puzzling murder. Full of “By Jove!” and “I say, old chap!”, its often a forgotten gem from a time before Winnie-the-Pooh.
Searching for more brilliant children’s books? Read our review of the best kids’ poetry books that inspire and educate
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