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A.A. Milne: His Life


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Ann Thwaite was born of New Zealand parents in London in 1929. She was educated at St Hilda's College, Oxford and has been a writer, biographer and reviewer all her life. She lives with her husband, the poet Anthony Thwaite, in Norfolk


In this overly detailed life of Alan Alexander Milne (1882-1956), Thwaite ( Edmund Gosse ) chronicles the British writer's childhood, spent with devoted parents and his two older brothers; his schooling under his father, a progressive headmaster; the fame and frustrations that attended his early adulthood. The book includes quotes from the memoirs of Milne's son Christopher, H. G. Wells, P. G. Wodehouse and other contemporaries, both friends and critics. Milne was a successful playwright when, during the 1920s, he created the Pooh books, international bestsellers. Bitter over waning interest in his adult works, he resented the popularity of his tender, witty children's classics. Thwaite emphasizes Milne's touchiness, among other of his character traits, as she describes this uniquely gifted writer's changing relationships with family members. Photos not seen by PW. (Sept.)

The man behind Winnie-the-Pooh was a humorist, Punch editor, light versifier, and above all a playwright. Milne had a brief but very successful and prolific career as a dramatist before settling reluctantly for Pooh's glory. For this first Milne biography, Thwaite draws on both Milne's and his son Christopher Robin's memoirs, but also on unpublished letters and family memories, depicting his happy childhood, solidly middle-class background, ardent pacifism, and complex relations (obscured by an ingrained reticence) with his wife and son. Although the children's books play only a small (but central) role in this biography, their publishing history, reception, and critical evaluation are neatly summarized. There is just enough history to set Milne's work in its context. Sadly, Milne's charmed life eventually gave way to disappointment, but this even-tempered and readable biography will not disappoint.--Patricia Dooley, Univ. of Washington Lib. Sch., Seattle

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