A A Milne’s manuscript of Winnie-the-Pooh features in a major Victoria & Albert Museum exhibition about the genesis and legacy of a teddy bear, along with his friends, Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, Kanga, Owl and Rabbit.
Both A A Milne, and his son, Christopher Robin Milne, studied at Trinity. Milne graduated in 1903 with a degree in Mathematics. At Cambridge, he wrote for the student magazine Granta, and played cricket and football. Trinity’s Wren Library has two of Milne’s manuscripts, bequeathed by the author: Winnie-the-Pooh, on loan to the V&A, and The House at Pooh Corner, which is on display in the Wren.
After graduating in 1903, Milne joined Punch magazine and wrote numerous plays and novels. But it was the four children’s books, illustrated by E H Shepard, that made not only the ‘Bear of Very Little Brain’ a household name, but also propelled Milne and his son, Christopher Robin, to fame.
The books conjure up an idyllic childhood. Christopher Robin grew up on the edge of Ashdown Forest in Sussex, playing games with his stuffed toys, chief among them a teddy bear. This was the inspiration and setting for his father’s creation of the whimsical world of Pooh and his compatriots in the 100-acre wood.
The V&A’s Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic, which opens on 9 December, explores Milne and Shepard’s creative partnership, as well as exploiting maximum charm and whimsy from the books, for the delight of children and adults alike.
As well as Milne’s manuscript from Trinity, this major exhibition features Shepard’s drawings, now very fragile, letters, photographs and copies of Christopher Robin’s toys (the originals are displayed in the New York Public Library).