MILNE, A.A. (1882-1956)
Plaque erected in 1979 by Greater London Council at 13 Mallord Street, Chelsea, London, SW3 6DT, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
A.A. MILNE 1882-1956 Author lived here
The author AA Milne lived at 13 Mallord Street during the most creative years of his life, from 1919 until about 1940. While living there he wrote both of his Winnie-the-Pooh books and two collections of poetry.
‘THE PRETTIEST LITTLE HOUSE IN LONDON’
Alan Alexander Milne and his wife Daphne moved to 13 Mallord Street (then number 11) in the summer of 1919. They called it ‘the prettiest little house in London’. Having lived in flats for many years, Milne found it thrilling to live in a house that had ‘an outside personality as well as an inside one’. He wrote:
Any of you may find himself some day in our quiet street, and stop a moment to look at our house; at the blue door with its jolly knocker, at the little trees in their blue tubs… at the bright-coloured curtains. We have the pleasure of feeling that we are contributing something to London.
The Milnes’ also had a country home in Sussex but Mallord Street was their principal base until 1940, and it was here that their son Christopher Robin (1920–96) was born.
Christopher was soon to become the ‘world's most famous child’. ‘Billy’, as he was known, lived in a nursery on the top floor of the house with his nanny, Olive Rand. After a year they were joined by a Harrods teddy bear, which came to be known as Winnie-the-Pooh. Winnie was the name of a black Canadian bear in the zoo and Pooh was the name Christopher had given to a swan. When the London Evening News asked Milne to write a story for them in Christmas 1925, he chose to write down a bedtime story he had told his son about his bear. The story became the first chapter of Winnie-the-Pooh (1926). The book was modelled on Christopher Robin and his toys, which in addition to Pooh, included Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo and Tigger.
Winnie-the-Pooh was followed by The House at Pooh Corner (1928). Milne also published two collections of poetry while at Mallord Street, both of which featured Pooh bear: When We Were Very Young (1924) and Now We Are Six (1927).
The works, which won their author international acclaim, were brought vividly to life by the illustrator EH Shepard and were later transferred to the screen by Disney.
Milne had a varied writing career. He first made his name at Punch, where he worked from 1906 until the outbreak of the First World War. He published his first children’s book while serving in the Army – the light-hearted fairy-story Once on a Time (1917) – but after demobilisation he devoted himself to stage comedy. His plays were extremely successful, particularly Toad of Toad Hall (1928), an adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows.
Milne also wrote adult fiction, including the popular detective story, The Red House Mystery (1922). His other novels included Two People (1931), Four Days’ Wonder (1933), and Chloe Marr (1946).