INSCRIBED BY A.A. MILNE: WHEN WE WERE VERY YOUNG, THE FIRST POOH BOOK, FIRST EDITION
MILNE, A.A. SHEPARD, Ernest. When We Were Very Young. London: Methuen, 1924. Small octavo, original pictorial blue cloth gilt, top edge gilt. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $13,500.
First edition of the first and rarest Pooh book, inscribed by Milne on the front free endpaper: "This book belongs to Arthur and Rita Kleeman: as witnessed by A: A: Milne."
"Although Alan Alexander Milne wrote novels, short stories, poetry and many plays for adults, in addition to his work as assistant editor for Punch from 1906 to 1914, it is his writings for children that have captured the hearts of millions of people worldwide" (Silvey, 461). Milne wrote most of these poems at the request of friend and fellow poet Rose Fyleman, who was planning a new children's magazine. "On a rain-blighted holiday in Wales, [Milne] escaped from the crowd of fellow guests to the summerhouse, and for 11 days wrote a set of children's verses, one each day… 'There on the other side of the lawn was a child with whom I had lived for three years [his son, Christopher Robin]… and here within me were unforgettable memories of my own childhood.' He added more verses when he got home, enough for a book, and allowed some to be published in advance in Punch" (Carpenter & Prichard, 351). Shepard, a Punch staff artist at the time, provided delightful line vignettes, resulting in "a wonderful marriage of verse and vision. His delicately precise and fresh drawings had an instant appeal" (DNB). This first book in what would become the cherished "Pooh quartet" contains such well-known pieces as "Vespers" and "Buckingham Palace." "Many feature or are spoken by [Milne's son] Christopher Robin; all reveal Milne's superior understanding of the world as viewed through a child's eyes" (Silvey, 462). "When We Were Very Young caught the imagination of a public beginning to be sated with Peter Pan and the fairy-fashion, and the book was bought in quantities. It went through 12 printings in just over a year and brought Milne a fame which, despite all his apparent successes, had really deserted him up to that time" (Carpenter, 200). First edition, second issue as usual, with page ix numbered. Any first edition copy is exceedingly scarce. Without scarce original dust jacket. Payne IA. Cotsen 7323. Connolly, 206. Cutler & Stiles, 115.
Small repaired tears to half title and title page, tiny bump to upper corner, cloth fresh, gilt bright. A beautiful inscribed copy of this children's classic.