|Alan Alexander Milne, son of John Vine Milne and Sarah Maria Milne [Higinbotham]||Printer friendly version|
Alan Alexander Milne was born near Hampstead on 18th January 1882 to John and Sarah Maria Milne. He was educated at Westminster and Trinity College, Cambridge where his literary talents were first discovered as the editor of Granta. From then to Punch as a contributor and then sub-editor. In 1913 he married Dorothy de Selincourt and after the war years when he served for a period on the front A.A. Milne settled down to write a series of children's books which were to establish him as one of England's great writers - "When We Were Very Young", "Winnie-the-Pooh", "Now We Are Six", and "The House at Pooh Corner". He died on 31st January 1956 at Cotchford Farm, Hartfield which had become his home for many years.
|18th Jan 1882||Born||In the Parish of Hampstead, London||Estimated date|
|1904||Autobiography||A.A. Milne's first free-lance contribution|
Meanwhile my first free-lance contribution had been accepted. Sherlock Holmes had just 'returned' in The Strand Magazine after his duel with Moriarty. I wrote a burlesque of this, which I sent to Punch. Punch refused it, and I sent it to Vanity Fair. I can remember the last two lines of the dialogue between Holmes and Watson
"And Moriarty?" I said. "What of him?"
To my delight the 'stamped addressed envelope enclosed' did not come back at once, and I was hopeful as usual that, when it did, it might contain my first proof. Ken was now in London, a qualified solicitor just entering his first office. We were dining together at a nondescript club which he had joined. Waiting for him in the smoking-room I picked up Vanity Fair, wondering on which page of it, one day, my parody might appear. To my utter disappointment I found that somebody had forestalled me; somebody else had written a Holmes parody. No doubt people were doing it all over England at that time. Jealously I read the opening paragraph. Dash the man, he had even got my first joke, about the Persian slipper! I read on . . . and then suddenly with beating heart glanced at the end
"There was no such man," said Holmes. "It was merely the name of a soup." A. A. M.
First pale with the shock of it, then red with embarrassment, I glanced nervously round the room. My secret was out. Was everybody looking at me? Even now when I see my name in the paper, I feel that the world is intruding unduly on my privacy. I ought to be anonymous: we all ought to be anonymous. When I give my name in a shop, I give it with an ill-grace. This first appearance of my initials in a London paper which all London could read filled me with a ridiculous shame. Only for a moment of course. Then I read the article through lingeringly: line by matchless line, loving every beautiful word of it.
|Mar 1905||Published||Book - Lovers in London|
|1906 to 1914||Autobiography||Assistant Editor of Punch|
Although I was (undoubtedly) Assistant Editor of Punch, I had not been given a seat at the Punch Table. The Punch Dinner, at which the cartoons for the next number were planned, was held every Wednesday evening at seven on the floor below the editorial offices. Wednesday was a busy day, and I was generally in my room when the diners began to congregate. Most of them would put their heads in to say `Good evening'; some of them would stay for a little talk; just so (one felt) would kindly uncles who had come to dine look in on the nursery to say good night to the children, before joining the other guests in the drawingroom. I was too young to dine downstairs. There was no precedent for putting a child of twenty-four on the historic Table. There was also no precedent for removing anybody from the historic Table, once he had carved his initials on it. Any Proprietor of any paper might quail at the thought of giving me a seat at the Table at twenty-four and finding me still there at seventy-four.
This, however, was not the reason given for my exclusion. The business of the dinner was the discussion of the cartoons. My political competence was doubted; my political competence (said the Proprietors) must be proved before I could come downstairs.
In 1910 I was allowed downstairs. [Robert] Graves presented me with a knife with which to leave my mark on the Table, and I achieved a modest and monogrammatic A. A. M. which is already, I dare say, a hieroglyphic to him who sits in my place.
As a member .of the Table I provided my own warmth. The dinner was a long one and a good one; we drank champagne who liked it; we smoked cigars or pipes; we talked and could have gone on talking. But from the other end of the Table Owen [Seaman] said, 'Well, gentlemen', and we turned reluctantly to the business of the evening. The cartoons. The very political cartoons. And in those days politics made me extremely warm.
|1910||Published||Book - The Day's Play|
|1913||Autobiography||A.A. Milne's proposal of marriage|
In 1913 Owen Seaman's god-daughter, Dorothy de Selincourt (Daphne to friends), was persuaded to marry me. Owen had taken me to her coming-out dance, and we had gone about together in a way common enough now, but less usual in those days. When I wanted a present for a sister-in-law or a new suit for myself, I would summon her to help me; when she wanted a man to take her to a dance she would ring me up. She laughed at my jokes, she had my contributions to Punch by heart before she met me, she had (it is now clear) the most perfect sense of humour in the world; and I, in my turn, had a pianola to which she was devoted, and from which I could not keep her away. We might have gone on like this for ever.
I proposed to her at eleven o'clock one morning in a snow-storm. I had to, because she was going back to London that afternoon, where also there were other people, and it was clear to me now that it was my mission to save her from them.
We were married in June, and took a flat in Embankment Gardens, Chelsea. I was now getting eight guineas a week for my contributions to Punch, which was then the top price for writers on the staff. When I stopped writing for The Sphere, the Proprietors compensated me by raising my salary to £500, so that with double pay for Almanacs and Summer Numbers, and a trickle of royalties from the books, I was making about £1,000 a year. We were very comfortable and very happy.
|24th Jun 1913||Married||Daphne de Selincourt in the Parish of Chelsea, London; registered at St. Georges, Hanover Square District, London; ref: 1913 Q1 Vol 1a Page 908||Register of marriages|
|1915 to 1919||Autobiography||Volunteered for war, enlisted in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and served as a signalling officer in France.|
I was a pacifist before 1914, but this (I thought with other fools) was a war to end war. It did not make the prospect of being a soldier any more attractive. There was an extraordinary idea among the elderly that 'being a soldier' meant just no more than 'risking your life for your country', and that the man who was unwilling to do this was a coward, and that the man who was willing to do this was a hero. To people like, myself the Great Sacrifice was not the sacrifice of our lives but of our liberties. … As the result of an introduction from [Robert] Graves I was commissioned to the 4th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, then stationed at Golden Hill in the Isle of Wight. … After six experimental weeks in which I learnt to be just a little, but not much, like a soldier, Daphne joined the married strength, and from then on, whenever it was possible, she shared the war with me. Through a variety of accidents I became Signalling Officer. After a nine weeks' course at the Southern Command Signalling School I really knew something about it, with the result that I was kept at home as an instructor until July 1916. … An orderly saluted and said the Colonel would like to see me in the Mess. I was for France in forty-eight hours. … The attack was timed for midnight. … We dashed. The Major went first - he was going to 're-organize the troops'; I went second, God knew why; the sergeant and the signaller came behind me, running out a line neatly and skilfully. No laddering now, no text-book stuff, it was just dropped anywhere. From time to time the Major flung himself down for a breather, and down we flopped and panted, wondering if he would get up again. To our relief each time he was alive, and so were we. We passed one of the signal-stations, no longer a station but a pancake of earth on top of a spread-eagled body; I had left him there that evening, saying, 'Well, you'll be comfortable here.' More rushes, more breathers, more bodies, we were in the front line. … We put in a week at Loos after the Somme, and were then due for a long rest. … I was now  in the War Office, wore the green tabs of Intelligence and wrote (horrible word) 'propaganda'. I had been marked for Home Service by a succession of medical boards, with the recommendation of 'secondary work'. … Demobilization  was not difficult. I rejoined the regiment at Crowborough, where, as a sedentary soldier, I not only lived comfortably at the Beacon Hotel, but found a comfortable stool in the demobilization office from which I could call attention to the hard case of Lieut. A.A. Milne.
|5th Jan 1920||Published||Play - Mr Pimm Passes By|
|21st Aug 1920||Birth of a son||Christopher Robin at 11 Mallord Street in the Parish of Chelsea, London||Estimated date|
|1922||Published||Detective story - The Red House Mystery|
|1924||Published||Children's Book - When We Were Very Young|
When he [Christopher Robin] was three, we took a house in North Wales for August with the Nigel Playfairs. It rained continuously. … In a week I was screaming with agoraphobia. Somehow I must escape. I pleaded urgent inspiration, took a pencil and an exercise-book and escaped to the summer-house. It contained a chair and a table. I sat down on the chair, put my exercise-book on the table, and gazed ecstatically at a wall of mist which might have been hiding Snowdon or the Serpentine for all I saw or cared. I was alone. …
So there I was with an exercise-book and a pencil, and a fixed determination not to leave the heavenly solitude of that summer-house until it stopped raining … and there in London were two people telling me what to write … and there on the other side of the lawn was a child with whom I had lived for three years … and here within me were unforgettable memories of my own childhood … what was I writing? A child's book of verses obviously. Not a whole book, of course; but to write a few would be fun-until I was tired of it. Besides, my pencil had an india-rubber at the back; just the thing for poetry.
I had eleven wet days in that summer-house and wrote eleven sets of verses. Then we went back to London. A little apologetically: feeling that this wasn't really work: feeling that a man of stronger character would be writing that detective-story and making £2,000 for the family: a little as if I were slipping off to Lord's in the morning, or lying in a deck-chair at Osborne reading a novel, I went on writing verses. By the end of the year I had written enough for a book.
|1925 to 1956||Home||At Cotchford [als Scotchford] Farm in the Parish of Hartfield, Sussex|
|14th Oct 1926||Published||Children's Book - Winnie-the-Pooh|
Winnie-the-Pooh was written two years later, and was followed by a second book of verses and, in 1928, The House at Pooh Corner. The animals in the stories came for the most part from the nursery. My collaborator [Daphne] had already given them individual voices, their owner [Christopher Robin] by constant affection had given them the twist in their features which denoted character, and Shepard drew them, as one might say, from the living model. They were what they are for anyone to see; I described rather than invented them. Only Rabbit and Owl were my own unaided work.
These books also became popular. One day when Daphne went up to the nursery, Pooh was missing from the dinner table which he always graced. She asked where he was. "Behind the ottoman," replied his owner coldly. "Face downwards. He said he didn't like When we Were Very Young." Pooh's jealousy was natural. He could never quite catch up with the verses.
|1927||Published||Children's Book - Now We Are Six|
|1928||Published||Children's Book - The House at Pooh Corner|
|1929||Published||Play - Toad of Toad Hall|
|1934||Published||Book - Peace With Honour|
|1939||Published||Autobiography - Its Too Late Now|
|1946||Published||Novel - Chloe Marr|
|Oct 1952||Information||Suffered a stroke|
|31st Jan 1956||Died||At Cotchford [als Scotchford] Farm in the Parish of Hartfield, Sussex||Estimated date|
Milne, Mylne, Milnes, Milner, Millner, Melne, Milliner individual records
|The ancestral pedigree of Alan Alexander Milne|
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