Alan Alexander Milne (/mɪln/; 18 January 1882 – 31 January 1956) was an English author, best known for his books about the teddy bear Winnie-the-Pooh and for various poems. Milne was a noted writer, primarily as a playwright, before the huge success of Pooh overshadowed all his previous work. Milne served in both World Wars, joining the British Army in World War I, and was a captain of the British Home Guard in World War II.
Pooh is one of the most popular characters adapted for film and television by Walt Disney and was included in TV Guide’s list of the 50 greatest cartoon characters of all time in 2002 and also has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
A. A. Milne named the character Winnie-the-Pooh after a teddy bear owned by his son, Christopher Robin Milne, on whom the character Christopher Robin was based. The rest of Christopher Robin Milne’s toys – Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, and Tigger – were incorporated into Milne’s stories. Two more characters, Owl and Rabbit, were created by Milne’s imagination, while Gopher was added to the Disney version. Christopher Robin’s toy bear is on display at the Main Branch of the New York Public Library in New York City.
Christopher Milne had named his toy bear after Winnie, a Canadian black bear he often saw at London Zoo, and “Pooh”, a swan they had met while on holiday. The bear cub was purchased from a hunter for $20 by Canadian Lieutenant Harry Colebourn in White River, Ontario, Canada, while en route to England during the First World War. He named the bear “Winnie” after his adopted hometown in Winnipeg, Manitoba. “Winnie” was surreptitiously brought to England with her owner, and gained unofficial recognition as The Fort Garry Horse regimental mascot. Colebourn left Winnie at the London Zoo while he and his unit were in France; after the war she was officially donated to the zoo, as she had become a much-loved attraction there. Pooh the swan appears as a character in its own right in When We Were Very Young.
In the first chapter of Winnie-the-Pooh, Milne offers this explanation of why Winnie-the-Pooh is often called simply “Pooh”:
But his arms were so stiff … they stayed up straight in the air for more than a week, and whenever a fly came and settled on his nose he had to blow it off. And I think – but I am not sure – that that is why he is always called Pooh.