Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Return to The Hundred Acre Wood: writing the Winnie-the-Pooh sequel
Would AA Milne approve of his successor? David Benedictus recounts his long journey towards the Hundred Acre Wood.
By David Benedictus writing in The Telegraph last week.
This is a lengthy, interesting piece from which the following is but a small extract:
I visited the Ashdown Forest, aka the Hundred Acre Wood, and one evening in an old pub fancied that Milne was guiding my hand as I wrote the 'exposition’, which must have taken all of half an hour.
Writing the stories was straightforward if I could imagine myself to be Milne, rather than trying to write as he did. I was more exercised in my attempts to please my editors at Egmont, the trustees and the foreign publishers who were starting to get aboard.
I liked Milne’s ingenious constructions and 10-bob words. But I was not so happy when my 'convolvulus’ became Egmont’s 'bindweed’, nor when my purple passages about the Sussex countryside were rendered more mauve than purple. Rabbit’s piratical exploits became his attempts to conduct a census of the animals.
I wrote a cricketing story to which publishers in non-cricketing countries objected; they preferred football. But, I argued, Milne did not. How about golf, which Milne enjoyed almost as much as cricket? No, said the American publishers, golf is not child-friendly. I reverted to cricket but with a lengthy explanation added as to how the game is played.
I do not yet know whether the Pooh people – and there are many millions of them out there – will approve of what I have written. The internet is awash with those who accuse me of the worst kinds of heresy. But my intention was always to write the sort of stories which Milne might have written if he had had any juice left in him.
The greatest compliment I can hope for is for somebody to say: It’s almost as if the great man had been at work again.
It wasn’t just that Milne may have run out of stories to be set in the Hundred Acre Wood. He was to grow weary of so many things, but remained endlessly enchanted by a boy and a bear in a wood. It was not enough for him to delight the world; like writers everywhere he also wanted to change it.
To read his full article link here.
Read an extract from Return to The Hundred Acre Wood
The Bookman is now the proud owner of a copy of Return to the Hundred Acre Wood and having read several chapters this afternoon, including the one the author refers to above about cricket, I reckon he has caught the voice of Milne rather well. It is going to be interesting though to see what reaction is forthcoming from Pooh afficianados.
The book is a handsome hardcover edition printed on high quality paper, superb end papers and prolifically illustrated throughout. I believe Milne would be happy with the result.