One hundred and thirty-four years ago to-day, Mr Alan Alexander Milne was born. Thanks to him, of course, we have Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends in the 100 Acre Wood.
Milne occupies a special place in my heart. I love his Pooh books and would love, really love, to be able to write a story as young, carefree and profound as Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. As matter of fact, I have tried to but whenever I try to write something young and carefree it quickly gets Old and Serious and not at all what I intended. It probably serves me right for trying – the world doesn’t need another Pooh story, the originals are quite good enough; what it needs is something that is of me not me-trying-to-be-A.A.Milne-but-myself if you see what I mean.
Anyway, apart from the actual stories, another reason I – and I am sure many of us – love Milne’s Pooh stories so much is E. H. Shepard’s art. At first glance it is a bit scruffy and sketchy round the edges but still – or perhaps because – is so full of character. In this it is the antithesis of the horrible Disney versions of Pooh et al which in their cleanness and polished look are perfect and perfectly horrible.
As part of this post, I thought I would share a Christmas gift I was given in 2002 by my sister, Evie. It started out as just a postcard, and I thought it so nice that she offered to put it in a frame for me.
The text at the top and bottom (the former might be just visible in the photo, the latter is hidden underneath the post card) says ‘Dear Malcolm Take good care of this picture! Lots and lots of love from Evie xxx 25/12/02)’ Well, it resides on my book shelf and is still here 15 years later so I hope I have fulfilled, and will continue to fulfil, her commission – even to the age of 100.
Here is the rear:-
Evie, if you happen to read this: thank you from the bottom of my heart and continuing down to the tips of my toes for such a lovely gift!