No sooner do I begin writing about one author whose birthday it is, – another pops up! Over the past three days Anne Bronte, A.A. Milne, Raymond Briggs and Edgar Allen Poe have all celebrated birthdays, or to be exact, they have had their birthdays celebrated for them – apart from Raymond Briggs who at 78, is still with us.
January 17th was the birthday of writer and poet Anne Bronte (1820 – 1849 Thornton Yorkshire) Anne, was the youngest of 6 children born to the Reverend Patrick Bronte and Maria Branwell. She was barely one year old when her mother died. Anne wrote 2 books in her short lifetime (Agnes Grey which was published in 1847 and The Tenent of Wildfell Hall published 1848) and a lot of poetry. Much has been written about the Bronte family, their story is well-known. This website is dedicated to Anne and includes all her poems and a biography. But this beautiful poem, a tribute to the simple flower, the bluebell could almost be a metaphor for the author’s life, made poignant by her sad death at the age of 29. She is buried in Scarborough – her favorite place.
Read my review about The Tenant of Wildfell Hall here
Born in Kilburn, London, Milne grew up at Henley House school, a small public school ran by his father. One of his teachers was H. G. Wells (who taught there 1889 – 1890). The young Milne attended Westminsterschool and Trinity College Cambridge, where he studied mathematics. Whilst at Cambridge, he edited and wrote for the student magazine Granta. His collaborated on articles with his brother Kenneth and caught the attention of Punch magazine. Milne went on to be a contributor and later, assistant editor.
He married Dorothy “Daphne” de Sélincourt in 1913 and in 1920 Christopher Robin Milne was born. Milne bought Cotchford farm in East Sussex in 1925. He joined the army in World War 1, serving as an officer in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and later, after a debilitating illness, the Royal Corps of Signals. He was discharged on February 14, 1919 . During World War 11 Milne was Captain of the Home Guard in Hartfield Forest Row. In 1952 he had a stroke and had to undergo brain surgery. He retired to his farm an invalid.
Milne published 18 plays and 3 novels and in 1924 produced a collection of children’s poetry called When We Were Very Young, this was illustrated by Punch illustrator E. H. Shepherd. Milne was also a screen writer for the British film industry (founded in 1920). But it is the two Pooh books which Milne is most famous for.
The books feature a boy named Christopher Robin (after Milnes’ son). The characters in the book were inspired by Christopher Robin’s stuffed toys – the most noteworthy being the bear named ‘Winnie the Pooh’. The bear was originally called ‘Edward’ but was renamed ‘Winnie the Pooh’ after a Canadian black bear called ‘Winnie’ (after Winnipeg) used as a military mascot in World War 1 and was left to London Zoo during the war. The ‘Pooh’ comes from a swan of the same name.’
Winnie the Pooh was published in 1926. A second collection of nursery rhymes Now we are Six was published in 1927 and was followed by The House at Pooh Corner in 1928 and were all illustrated by E. H. Shepherd. For a more in-depth look at this author please look here and this website and there are lots of Pooh related information to be found here
The author Raymond Briggs also shares his birthday with A.A. Milne. Briggs was born in 1934 Wimbledon London. He is a graphic artist, novelist and illustrator. though he is best known for his story The Snowman, shown every Christmas in cartoon form on television, he has illustrated many children’s books.
Briggs liked to cartoon at an early age, even though his father tried to dissuade him from what he saw as an unprofitable pursuit. He attended the Wimbledon School of Art from 1949 – 1953 studying painting, then the Central School of Art to study typography.
In 1953 he became a conscript in the Royal Corps of Signals, based at Catterick, where he was made a draughtsman. He returned to study painting at Slade School fo Fine Art after 2 years of National Service where he graduated in 1957.
He briefly painted before becoming a professional illustrator, and soon began working on children’s books. He taught illustration part-time at Brighton College of Art between 1961 and 1986
His famous works include Father Christmas (1973), Father Christmas goes on Holiday (1975) which both featured a rather grumpy Father Christmas and Fungus the Bogeyman (1977). These were in the form of comics, rather than the typical children’s book format where the text is separate to the illustrations.
Briggs has said that The Snowman (1978) was inspired by Fungus the Bogeyman;-
For two years I worked on Fungus, buried amongst muck, slime and words, so… I wanted to do something which was clean, pleasant, fresh and wordless and quick.
This work was entirely wordless and illustrated only with pencil crayons, which I feel lends it charm and spontaneity. In 1982 The Snowman was made into a Oscar nominated animated cartoon, becoming Briggs best known work and much-loved by all who see it. It is shown every year on British television and Christmas would not be the same without it! For a more in-depth look at the author and his life try this and the charming Snowman website here
19th January saw the birthday of celebrated Amercian author, editor, poet and literary critic Edgar Allan Poe (b. Boston Massachusetts) USA 1809 – 1849) Poe is famous for his tales of the macabre and mystery. He is considered an early pioneer of the short story and the inventor of the detective fiction genre and a contributor to the emerging genre Science fiction.
Orphaned young, Poe was taken in by John and Frances Allan, of Richmond Virginia. He attended the University of Virgina for only one semester as he was short of money. He enlisted in the army but failed as an officers cadet at West Point. He started his literary career with a collection of poems in 1827 (Tamerlane and Other Poems). The poems were credited anonymously to ‘A Bostonian’
Poe spent worked for literary journals and periodicals for the next several years, becoming known for his literary criticism. He lived in several cities including Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City and it was in Baltimore 1835 he married his 13-year-old cousin Virginia Clemm.
In 1945, his poem The Raven was published too much acclaim and was an instant success. Poe died in 1849 at the age of only 40, the cause is still unknown.
Edgar Allan Poe’s short life is a very interesting one, full of adventures, triumphs and some sadness. His fiction work is considered Gothic and of dark Romanticism. His particular theme include death, decomposition and premature burial. But he also wrote humourous tales, satire and hoaxes, using themes that catered to the public taste of the time. Much more can be read about Poe’s life here and short stories and poems can be read on this excellent site.
Read my post about his poem Annabel Lee
Anne Bronte portrait from here
Read about Anne here
Thanks to JustAudio2008 for The Bluebell video
Edgar Allan Poe image from here
Thanks to KajiCarson for the video
Original birthday invite image from here
HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHARLES DICKENS!