One of the most influential writers of the 20th century was born on this day in 1882. Can you guess who? That's right - A.A. Milne, author and creator of Winnie-the-Pooh. While almost every child raised in civilization has heard of 'Pooh and his friends, most of us probably know very little of Milne's life.
Born in London, Milne attended the Henley House School. One of his teachers was H.G. Wells, author of The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), and The War of the Worlds (1898) to name a few. Though interested in writing, Milne attended Trinity College, Cambridge, on a mathematics scholarship.
Like most young men of his generation, Milne joined the British Army and served during WWI. Following the war he wrote Peace with Honour, a denunciation of war. Although Milne later served in the Home Guard near his country home, Cotchford Farm, in East Sussex, during WWII, he campaigned against the atrocities of war the rest of his life.
Following the war, Milne was a contributing writer for the British magazine Punch. Pooh first appeared in a poem, "Teddy Bear", published in the magazine in February, 1924. "The Wrong Sort of Bees", the first Pooh-related story, appeared in the London Evening News on Christmas Eve, 1925.
The character Christopher Robin was created after the author's son, Christopher Robin Milne, pictured on the left. Winnie-the-Pooh was inspired by Christopher Robin's bear, Edward, but renamed Pooh in the stories after a Canadian black bear from Winnipeg.
E.H. Shepard illustrated the original Pooh books and used his own son's stuffed bear, Growler, as the model. Christopher Robin Milne's other toys were the inspiration for Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, Owl, Rabbit and Tigger.
A.A. Milne passed away in January, 1956, at the age of 74, not knowing that the few books he wrote about Winnie-the-Pooh would change the way children are read to forever.
Rest in peace, Mr. Milne. Your gentle writings will influence many generations to come.