A.A. Milne is one of the most successful English writers ever.
His heart-warming creations - Winnie-the-Pooh, Christopher Robin, Eeyore, Tigger and Piglet - have become some of the best-loved children's characters of all time, and readers the world over are familiar with the stories from the "Hundred Acre Wood".
Yet the man himself has remained an enigma. Although in many ways his behaviour was that of a typical golf-playing, pipe-smoking Englishman, Milne refused to be typecast, and his publishers despaired when he turned from writing popular columns for "Punch" to writing detective stories.
They complained again when the detective writer presented them with a set of children's verse, but when "When We Were Very Young" became one of the best-selling books of all time, Milne's credibility as one of the world's favourite authors was sealed. And yet, for his son Christopher Robin, the success of his father was to be an almost intolerable burden.
In this prize-winning classic biography, Ann Thwaite reveals the man behind Pooh in all his complexity, including his experiences at the Somme in 1916 and his relationship with literary giants such as H.G.
Wells, P.G. Wodehouse and J.M. Barrie. She constructs a vivid and poignant portrayal of the inscrutable man and his stories, which earned so much devotion among readers that, eighty years since their creation, this portrait of their creator remains a must for followers of Pooh - whatever their age.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 424 pages, Illustrations
- Publisher: The History Press Ltd
- Publication Date: 01/10/2006
- Category: Biography: literary
- ISBN: 9780752440859
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Review by eleanor_eader
This is a rich, well-researched, engaging biography of a writer whose breadth of work extends far beyond the few children's stories for which he is so famous. Her subject, of course, is easy to relate to - Milne was not an altogether completely nice man, perhaps, but he was a gentleman, a wit - in writing, most certainly - a family man, an idealist, and best of all from a biographers viewpoint, had a life with enough facets to keep a reader more than interested while waiting to hear about Pooh. In fact, by the end of her book, one sympathises with Milne's position on the bear, and resolves to read at least one other book or play by the man, just to even the score a little. Thwaite shows us the whole man, unapologetically; His enmity of Wodehouse during the war was surprising and saddening; more so - despite Thwaite's attempt not to bias the reader in the matter of Milne's relationship with his son - is the knowledge that the relationship between this well-loved children's author and the son who's fictional namesake so delights us, soured so completely. It seems a waste and a shame, and while it is not Thwaite's fault, the fact remains that despite the excellence of this biography, I would have preferred not to have read it at all. Bother.