14 February 2020

Behind the Blue Plaque: AA Milne

Each of our fabulous suites here at 100 Queen's Gate Hotel is named after a famous resident of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. One such is the AA Milne Suite, a one-bedroom suite named after the English author of the Winnie The Pooh books.

Born in Kilburn, London in 1882, Milne lived and attended school in north London (briefly being taught by novelist HG Wells, who wrote War of the Worlds) before moving to Westminster School and subsequently taking up a mathematics scholarship at Trinity College, Cambridge. He joined the British Army in World War I, serving as an officer in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and was injured in the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and subsequently invalided back to England. There, he was recruited into Military Intelligence to write propaganda articles for M17, a branch of the British War Office’s Directorate of Military Intelligence, over the next two years before being discharged in 1919 and settling at 13 Mallord Street, just off Chelsea’s King’s Road. Milne and his wife Daphne also had a country home in Sussex but Mallord Street was their principal base until 1940, and it was here that their son Christopher Robin was born. Milne served again during World War II as captain in the British Home Guard. Following a stroke and brain surgery in 1952, his health deteriorated and he passed away in 1956, aged 74.

Milne’s time in Mallord Street was arguably one of the most important periods of his life, with his son Christopher Robin’s birth inspiring the story of Winnie the Pooh, which he penned during his years in the Royal Borough. It was his son’s stuffed animals that provided the basis for various characters in the story – Winnie the Pooh himself was inspired by a toy bear purchased from Harrods in Kensington, named after a real bear in London Zoo. The bear became a favourite of Christopher Robin when he visited the zoo, and he changed the name of his toy bear from Edward to Winnie.

Described by Milne as ‘the prettiest little house in London’, 13 Mallord Street is said to have found it thrilling to live in a house that had ‘an outside personality as well as an inside one’. His presence in the neighbourhood was marked with the instalment of a blue plaque above the front door of the property, celebrating his time spent in this small corner of west London and a mere 10-minute walk from the hotel.