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AA Milne's London

By Laura Reynolds Last edited 7 months ago
AA Milne's London
Art on a house in Yonge Park, near Seven Sisters Road. Photo: Geoff Holland

Alan Alexander Milne, the Londoner best known as AA Milne, is more often associated with Hartfield in East Sussex than the big city. Yet, he and his ursine creation Winnie the Pooh have plenty of links to London.

14 October 2016 marks the 90th anniversary of the publication of the first volume of Winnie The Pooh stories. To celebrate, take a wander though AA Milne's London.

Kilburn

Milne was born in Kilburn in January 1882. His father John Milne ran Henley House School at 6/7 Mortimer Road (now Mortimer Crescent), so Milne was a student there and was briefly taught by HG Wells. He also lived at the school, which was destroyed by a V1 in the war. Remsted House, part of the Mortimer Estate, has now taken its place at the junction of Mortimer Place and Kilburn Priory.

Westminster School

Milne attended Westminster School from 1893 to 1900. After his death, he bequeathed a one quarter share of the copyright of Winnie the Pooh to the school, which remains the largest benefaction given to the school to this day. Today, the school's AA Milne Society oversees all gifts to the school, distributing funds for things such as scholarships, bursaries and building improvement work.

Mallord Street, Chelsea

The blue plaque at 13 Mallord Street in Chelsea. Photo by Gareth E Kegg under Creative Commons

When Milne was discharged from the military in 1919, he moved into a house in 13 Mallord Street in Chelsea, just off King's Road. It now has a blue plaque on it and is Grade II listed. It went up for sale in 2013. When Milne first moved in, he was writing for Punch magazine, but while at the house he wrote poetry for his son Christopher Robin (who was born there) and found that his talents lay elsewhere. Milne owned the house until 1942.

Melina Place, St John's Wood

5 Melina Place, in the shadow of Lord's Cricket Ground in St John's Wood, is where artist EH Shepard lived until he retired to West Sussex in 1955. During his career he illustrated the Winnie The Pooh books. Shepard's Melina Place home was put up for sale in 2012.

London Zoo

Ever wondered where the inspiration for Winnie the Pooh came from? London Zoo, of course. Winnipeg was a black bear given to the zoo in 1914 by a Canadian regiment called up to fight at the trenches in France. AA Milne used to take his son Christopher Robin to the zoo, and began telling stories about Winnipeg. The rest, as they say, is history. Today, there's a statue of Winnipeg and a soldier at the zoo.

More on Winnipeg the bear here and here.

London Evening News

Pooh's first appearance was in the London Evening News on Christmas Eve 1925, in a story called The Wrong Sort Of Bees. We imagine there was honey (or 'hunny') involved.

British Film Institute

As well as his children's books and work for Punch magazine, Milne wrote four stories for Minerva Films which were filmed in the 1920s. Some of these films survive in the BFI archives today, including The Bump and Five Pounds Reward.

Lovers in London

Lovers in London (1905) was Milne's first book, a series of fictional sketches, although he himself wasn't happy with it. As the title suggests, it makes use of several London locations including St James's Park, Battersea, Finsbury Park, Victoria Park, Piccadilly and more.

Mr Sanderz's grotto at Syon Park in 2009. Unfortunately it's no longer there. Photo: Matt Brown

Leaving London

In 1924, AA Milne bought a country home in Hartfield, East Sussex, near to a spot now known as Pooh Corner, and his family moved there from Chelsea.

The Lyric Theatre

Milne's animal writings weren't limited to anthropomorphised bears and their friends; he adapted Kenneth's Grahame's 1908 novel The Wind In The Willows into Toad Of Toad Hall for the stage. The first performance of this adaptation took place at the Lyric Theatre on 17 December 1929.

Garrick Club

As well as Westminster School, The Garrick Club Charitable Trust was another of the four beneficiaries of AA Milne's literary estate. Milne had been a member of the club and, to this day, breakfast at the club is served in the Milne Room.

Sotheby's

In 2008, a collection of E H Shepard Winnie The Pooh illustrations sold for more than £1.2m at the London branch of Sotheby's auction house.

Last Updated 14 October 2016

Geoff Lumley

...and he bought the bear that would become "Winnie" from Farnell's factory, which is now part of Twyford CE High School in Acton.