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The Birth of Edward the Swan-Bear
A. A. Milne

The Birth of Edward the Swan-Bear
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English author Alan Alexander Milne, born January 18, 1882, led a highly productive literary life. He jump started his career with famed British humor rag Punch in 1906, and in the next 20 years produced over 20 works of fiction, poetry, plays, and nonfiction. In the midst of this storm of writing, Milne served in both World Wars.

Milne once said, "I suppose that every one of us hopes secretly for immortality; to leave, I mean, a name behind him which will live forever in this world, whatever he may be doing, himself, in the next." He certainly succeeded in this. He created a fairly large body of work by the time of his death, but most have immortalized him as the creator of Winnie-the-Pooh.

Winnie-the-Pooh is the fantastical children's story based on Milne’s son's stuffed animals. Of course the most popular of these stuffed animals was the bear, who was initially called Edward. Edward was later named Winnie-the-Pooh after the Canadian black bear adopted as a military mascot during World War I. “Winnie” came from the shortened Winnipeg, and “Pooh" came from, of course, a swan by the same name. Who said naming a silly, honey-loving bear was supposed to be simple?

Milne only created two books featuring the Pooh bear, yet they were so beloved they overshadowed his entire career. The titular Winnie the Pooh introduced all the classic Pooh-world characters, except for Tigger who was introduced in the sequel The House at Pooh Corner. The story is exactly as we've come to know it today, following Christopher Robin and his adventures with the bumbling Pooh bear.
Among some of Milne's first publications is the murder mystery, The Red House Mystery, about a house party and a black sheep brother who is mysteriously murdered within. It was good enough to gain the criticism of legendary detective fiction author Raymond Chandler, who said of it, "It is an agreeable book, light, amusing …  Yet, however light in texture the story may be, it is offered as a problem of logic and deduction. If it is not that, it is nothing at all. There is nothing else for it to be."

His first novel, Once on a Time, is a fantasy about two kingdoms, Euralia and Barodia, and the political scuffles between them. Although writing for children under the guise of typical fairy tale tropes, Milne specifically attempted to round out each character rather than present static characters of good and evil. The princess, for example, is not a helpless damsel in distress; the prince is prideful; the villain is not completely evil.

He worked on many play adaptations of famous children's stories, like Toad of Toad Hall based on The Wind in the Willows, and the Ugly Duckling based on the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale by the same name. One of his longest running plays was Mr. Pim Passes By.

By Thad Higa

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