This is a complete deluxe edition set of A. A. Milne's classic children's books based on the adventures of Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh. The set includes four first edition, deluxe issue volumes. These four volumes are illustrated throughout by Ernest H. Shepard and are bound in gorgeous, new full leather bindings with gilt titles and stamps to the spine, custom gilt embossed stamps to the front, and a new custom-made cloth archival slipcase.
A. A. Milne (1882–1956) and Ernest H. Shepard (1879–1976) were the author and illustrator of the iconic Winnie the Pooh books. Before Pooh, Alan Alexander Milne had a thriving career as a humorist and playwright. In 1904, shortly after graduating from Cambridge, he published his first piece in Punch and by 1906 was an assistant editor. His plays and novels, including the popular detective story The Red House Mystery, were enormously successful. Ernest Howard Shepard showed aptitude for drawing from an early age. While attending the Royal Academy Schools he began submitting illustrations to magazines. This gradually became his primary occupation. In 1906 Punch accepted his drawings for the first time, and he became a regular contributor by 1914.
In 1924, A. A. Milne had written a series of children’s verses for Punch and Shepard was suggested as the illustrator. The artist’s drawings had an instant appeal, and the verses and illustrations were published the same year in book form titled When We Were Very Young. When We Were Very Young is the first and the scarcest of the four Pooh books with an initial print run of 5,175 regular trade copies. It was first published by Methuen in London on November 6, 1924 to immense acclaim, and the first printing sold out in one day. By the end of the year more than 53,000 copies had been printed of what The Times called "the greatest children's book since Alice" (Thwaite, p. 286).
After the huge success of When We Were Very Young, Milne was asked to contribute a story to the London Evening News. "The Wrong Sort of Bees", published on Christmas Eve in 1925, was based on a bedtime story that Milne had told his son Christopher. It starred Christopher's stuffed bear, which had made his first public appearance in the poem "Teddy Bear", published in Punch in 1924. The original toy was a top-of-the-range Alpha Farnell bought at Harrods for Christopher Milne's first birthday, known initially as Edward or Edward Bear, then later rechristened Winnie-the-Pooh, after a favorite bear cub at London zoo.
In that same year, 1925, London publisher Methuen decided to introduce a small number of deluxe bindings for A. A. Milne's future Pooh books. At this time When We Were Very Young was in its tenth printing and Winnie the Pooh was about to be published. Metheun and Shephard decided to bind all deluxe edition printings in full red leather with elaborate gilt decoration to spines and gilt vignettes to covers. These deluxe editions had all gilt edges as well. Internally, they featured pictorial endpapers and line drawings by illustrator E.H. Shepard.
Winnie-the-Pooh was published in London on October 14, 1926 in an edition of 30,000 regular trade copies, 2,000 of which were deluxe printings. The book was an immediate success and garnered even more enthusiastic reviews than its predecessor, with one critic writing, "When the real Christopher Robin is a little old man, children will find him waiting for them. It is the child's book of the season that seems certain to stay" (Thwaite p. 317).
Milne began planning another book of poetry for children. In a January 1926 letter to his brother Ken he included it as number one in a list of "things which ought to be done". He described "a book of verses (about 15 done to date) to appear in 1927 or 1928" (Thwaite p. 293). By the time that Winnie-the-Pooh was published in late 1926, half the poems for this third book, Now We Are Six, were already complete. Now We Are Six was published on October 13, 1927. It took only two months for Now We Are Six to eclipse the sales records of the previous two books. Now We Are Six was printed in a regular trade edition of 50,000 copies. The deluxe printing was published as the fourth overall printing in 1928. Only 2,000 were printed as part of the red deluxe binding.
Milne began planning his final Pooh book in 1927. Three years of publicity and demanding writing schedules were taking their toll on the family, and Milne longed to return full-time to adult literature, telling his brother that "after one more Pooh book I must think of something else. In fact, it's time I tried a novel" (Thwaite p. 328). Christopher Robin was growing up, soon to leave for boarding school, and The House at Pooh Corner would be a farewell to the cherished childhood series. But first there was an introduction to be made. Milne had bought his son a stuffed tiger, "Tigger", and told Shepard that he was longing to see the illustrations for this new character, which would become one of the author's most popular creations.
Published on October 11, 1928 in an edition of 75,000 regular trade copies, The House at Pooh Corner was received by critics with a delight, tinged with sadness for the end of the series (Thwaite p. 336). Though both men continued producing work for adults, the four Pooh books established Milne and Shepard as one of the most important partnerships in children’s literature.
When We Were Very Young. London: Methuen & Co., July 1925. First deluxe printing, tenth overall trade edition. Printed in Great Britain. Octavo, cream paper. Newly bound in full blue Moroccan leather. Gilt titles, gilt butterfly stamps, and raised bands to the spine. Custom Winnie the Pooh gilt embossed stamp to the front boards, chain detailing, and butterflies to the front boards. Very good condition. Internally, pages are clean. Spines are healthy and binding is tight.
Winnie-the-Pooh. London: Methuen & Co., 1926. First deluxe edition, first printing. Printed in Great Britain. Octavo, cream paper. Newly bound in full green Moroccan leather. Gilt titles, gilt butterfly stamps, and raised bands to the spine. Custom Winnie the Pooh and Piglet gilt embossed stamp to the front boards, chain detailing, and butterflies to the front boards. Very good condition. Internally, pages are clean. Spines are healthy and binding is tight.
Now We Are Six. London: Methuen & Co., 1927. First deluxe edition, first printing. Printed in Great Britain. Octavo, cream paper. Newly bound in full red Moroccan leather. Gilt titles, gilt butterfly stamps, and raised bands to the spine. Custom Christopher Robin gilt embossed stamp to the front boards, chain detailing, and butterflies to the front boards.. Very good condition. Internally, pages are clean. Spines are healthy and binding is tight.
The House At Pooh Corner. London: Methuen & Co., 1928. First deluxe edition, first printing. Printed in Great Britain. Octavo, cream paper. Newly bound in full orange Moroccan leather. Gilt titles, gilt butterfly stamps, and raised bands to the spine. Custom Winnie the Pooh in a honey pot gilt embossed stamp, chain detailing, and butterflies to the front boards. Very good condition. Internally, pages are clean. Spines are healthy and binding is tight.
All four volumes are presented in a new, custom archival blue cloth slipcase, which features an image of Winnie the Pooh on the cover. Dimensions, in slipcase: 8" H x 5 3/8" W x 4 1/4" D.
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