Know Your History – 14th October – Winnie the Pooh first published.

know your history - writingOn this day… 14th October 1926 – Winnie the Pooh was first published.

With the first publication of the children’s book Winnie-the-Pooh on October 14, 1926, the world was introduced to some of the most popular fictional characters of the twentieth century – Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, and Eeyore. The second collection of Winnie-the-Pooh stories, The House at Pooh Corner, appeared on bookshelves just two years later and introduced the character Tigger.

On Creating Winnie the Pooh

Milne is most famous for his two Pooh books about a boy named Christopher Robin after his son, Christopher Robin Milne, and various characters inspired by his son’s stuffed animals, most notably the bear named Winnie-the-Pooh. Christopher Robin Milne’s Winnie the Poohstuffed bear, originally named “Edward”, was renamed “Winnie-the-Pooh” after a Canadian black bear named Winnie, which was used as a military mascot in World War I, and left to London Zoo during the war. “The pooh” comes from a swan called “Pooh”. E. H. Shepard illustrated the original Pooh books, using his own son’s teddy, Growler (“a magnificent bear”), as the model. The rest of Christopher Robin Milne’s toys, Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo and Tigger, were incorporated into A. A. Milne’s stories, two more characters – Rabbit and Owl – were created by Milne’s imagination.

 Did You Know?..

 You can visit most of the locations from the stories.

The Hundred Acre Wood, Roo’s Sandpit, Poohsticks Bridget and the rest are all fictionalized names of real places in the Ashdown Forrest in Sussex, England where Milne bought a country home in 1925. For example, the Hundred Acre Wood is really the Five Hundred Acre Wood and Galleon’s Leap is really Gill’s Lap.


Know Your History – 11th October – Peter Pan novel first published

know your history - writingOn this day… 11 October, 1911 – Peter Pan published

The novel by J.M Barrie was first published in 1911 by Hodder & Stoughton in the United Kingdom and Charles Scribner’s Sons in the United States. The original book contains a frontispiece and 11 half-tone plates by artist F. D. Bedford (whose illustrations are still under copyright in the EU). The novel was first abridged by May Byron in 1915, with Barrie’s permission, and published under the title Peter Pan and Wendy, the first time this form was used. This version was later illustrated by Mabel Lucie Attwell in 1921. In 1929, Barrie gave the copyright of the Peter Pan works to Great Ormond Street Hospital, a children’s hospital in London.

On Writing Peter Pan

When writer JM Barrie was growing up in the Scottish town of Kirriemuir there was a family tragedy. His 13-year-old brother cracked his skull in an ice-skating accident and died. Their mother was devastated. She had lost her darling, her favourite.Peter Pan

Jealously, young James did everything he could to become his brother, even dressing up in his clothes. He would never grow more than 5ft tall. Somewhere deep down he became convinced that leaving childhood was life’s greatest catastrophe. So he invented a story about a boy who stayed a boy for ever. He called him Peter Pan.

Did You Know?..

Peter returned to Wendy when she had grown up.

Four years after the premiere of the original production of Peter Pan, Barrie wrote an additional scene entitled When Wendy Grew Up. An Afterthought, later included in the final chapter of Peter and Wendy. In this scene, Peter returns for Wendy years later. But she is now grown up with a daughter of her own named Jane. It is also revealed Wendy married one of the Lost Boys, although this is not mentioned in the novel, and it is never revealed which one she did marry. When Peter learns that Wendy has “betrayed” him by growing up, he is heartbroken until Jane agrees to come to Neverland as Peter’s new mother. In the novel’s last few sentences, Barrie mentions that Jane has grown up as well and that Peter now takes her daughter Margaret to Neverland. Barrie says this cycle will go on forever as long as children are “innocent and heartless”.

Know Your History – 17th September – Gail Carson Levine born

know your history - writingOn this day… 17th September, 1947 – Gail Carson Levine born

Gail Carson Levine (born September 17, 1947) is an American author of young adult books. Her first novel, Ella Enchanted, received a Newbery Honor in 1998.

Advice On Writing

“Why do you keep reading a book? Usually to find out gail carson levine quote - hopewhat happens.
Why do you give up and stop reading? There may be lots of reasons. But often the answer is you don’t care what happens.
So what makes the difference between caring and not caring? The author’s cruelty. And the reader’s sympathy… It takes a mean author to write a good story.”

Did You Know?..

It took 9 years for Levine’s work to get published.

During this time she took writing classes and joined critique groups and The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Levine says “those years were some of my happiest. I was learning to write.”

Know Your History – 13th September – Roald Dahl born

know your history - writingOn this day… 13th September, 1916 – Roald Dahl born.

Roald Dahl (13 September 1916 – 23 November 1990) was a British novelist, short story writer, poet, screenwriter, and fighter pilot. Dahl’s short stories are known for their unexpected endings and his children’s books for their unsentimental, often very dark humour. His works for children include James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Witches, Fantastic Mr Fox, The BFG, George’s Marvellous Medicine, and The Twits. Adult works include Tales of the Unexpected and My Uncle Oswald.

About Writing

Roald Dahl wrote all of his stories in a shed at the end of his garden. roald dahl quote - secrets & magicEvery day from 10.00-12.00 and 16.00-18.00, Roald Dahl would write stories whilst sitting in a shed at the end of his garden. All of his stories were written using an HB pencil on yellow legal notepads.

Seven tips from Roald Dahl

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More features a short extract called Lucky Break, in which Roald Dahl explains how he came to be a writer. It also includes seven tips from Roald on the qualities he thought necessary to anyone wanting to make a living out of writing fiction. They were:

  1. “You should have a lively imagination.”
  2. “You should be able to write well. By that I mean you should be able to make a scene come alive in the reader’s mind. Not everybody has this ability. It is a gift and you either have it or you don’t.”
  3. “You must have stamina. In other words, you must be able to stick to what you are doing and never give up, for hour after hour, day after day, week after week and month after month.”
  4. “You must be a perfectionist. That means you must never be satisfied with what you have written until you have rewritten it again and again, making it as good as you possibly can.”
  5. “You must have strong self-discipline. You are working alone. No one is employing you. No one is around to give you the sack if you don’t turn up for work, or to tick you off if you start slacking.”
  6. “It helps a lot if you have a keen sense of humour. This is not essential when writing for grown-ups, but for children, it’s vital.”
  7. “You must have a degree of humility. The writer who thinks that his work is marvellous is heading for trouble.”

 Did You Know?..

“Roald Dahl created more than 250 words”

Chiddler, frobscottle, swishwiffingly scrumdiddlyumptious — okay so they’re not exactly in the OED, nor are they commonly used, but to create a register of 283 words is still quite impressive. The collection of words is called Gobblefunk and it’s mainly used in The BFG, although it does also make an appearance in Dahl’s other works, such as ‘Oompa Loompa’ in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Know Your History – 4th September – Joan Aiken born

know your history - writingOn this day… 4th September, 1924 – Joan Aiken born.

Joan Delano Aiken MBE (4 September 1924 – 4 January 2004) was an English writer specialising in supernatural fiction and children’s alternate history novels. In 1999 she was awarded an MBE for her services to children’s literature. For The Whispering Mountain, published by Jonathan Cape in 1968, she won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, a once-in-a-lifetime book award judged by a panel of British children’s writers, and she was a commended runner-up for the Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognising the year’s best children’s book by a British subject. She won an Edgar Allan Poe Award (1972) for Night Fall.joan aiken

About Writing

I could give some examples of Joan Aiken’s writing or writing advice, however instead I would rather direct readers to a fantastic source right here on wordpress:-

I have spent what seems like hours on this site now and the tales are fascinating. I particularly love the story of the Spanish shoes & the fondness of ghosts, but there is a lot of interesting reading on this blog and would urge readers to check it out.

Did You Know?..

Joan’s stepfather Martin Armstrong, wrote regularly for the BBC’s Children’s Hour, and urged Joan to submit her own stories; “Yes, But Today Is Tuesday” was read on air in 1941.

I’m quite pleased to see that google have also chosen to commemorate Joan Aiken in todays Google Doodle

Know Your History – 29th August – Karen Hesse

know your history - writingOn this day… 29th August, 1952 – Karen Hesse born.

Karen S. Hesse (born August 29, 1952) is an American author of children’s literature and literature for young adults, often with historical settings.

About Writing

Her first novel published by Henry Holt in 1991 as Wish on a Unicorn.Karen Hesse quote - writing for children

Out of the Dust is a story of a girl living through the dust bowl of the Depression. The mother of the central character dies giving birth to of her stillborn brother Franklin. After the mother dies, Billie Jo and her father try and continue on with their lives.

Hesse tackled a more disturbing subject in the 2001 verse novel Witness. The Ku Klux Klan, re-invigorated in the 1920s (in this book, 1924 and ’25) tries to take over a small Vermont town. The book is written from the perspectives of several people – Merlin Van Tornhout and Johnny Reeves, both members of the Klan; Sara Chickering, a farmer; Esther Hirsh, a six-year-old Jewish girl; Leonora Sutter, an African American girl; Iris Weaver, a restaurateur; Harvey and Viola Pettibone, shop owners; Reynard Alexander, a newspaper editor; Fitzgerald Flitt, the doctor; and Percelle Johnson, the town constable. In Witness Hesse continued the distinctive poetic/prose style she pioneered in Out of the Dust.

Hesse also wrote The Music of Dolphins, about a girl who was raised by dolphins.

Stowaway is based on the true story of an 11-year-old boy who stowed away on Captain James Cook’s ship Endeavour in 1768.

Brooklyn Bridge is based on the true story of the family who created the teddy bear in Brooklyn in 1903.

Did You Know?..

Her first novel was a rejected story about meeting Bigfoot.

For this, other interesting facts and great tips on writing visit her blog write here on wordpress:-

Know Your History – 11th August – Enid Blyton born

know your history - writingOn this day… 11th August, 1897 – Enid Blyton born

Enid Mary Blyton (11 August 1897 – 28 November 1968) was an English children’s writer whose books have been among the world’s best-sellers since the 1930s, selling more than 600 million copies. Blyton’s books are still enormously popular, and have been translated into almost 90 languages; her first book, Child Whispers, a 24-page collection of poems, was published in 1922. She wrote on a wide range of topics including education, natural history, fantasy, mystery stories and biblical narratives, and is best remembered today for her Noddy, Famous Five, and Secret Seven series.enid blyton

Following the commercial success of her early novels such as Adventures of the Wishing Chair (1937) and The Enchanted Wood (1939), Blyton went on to build a literary empire, sometimes producing fifty books a year in addition to her prolific magazine and newspaper contributions. Her writing was unplanned and sprang largely from her unconscious mind; she typed her stories as events unfolded before her. The sheer volume of her work and the speed with which it was produced led to rumours that Blyton employed an army of ghost writers, a charge she vigorously denied.

Did you know?

On 2nd January, 1987 – The publishers of Enid Blyton’s Noddy books bowed to pressure groups and agreed to expunge all racism from them by changing the golliwog characters to gnomes.

On Writing

For those interested in creating characters for children I think this site is quite a useful starting point – 5-tips-for-creating-characters-for-kids

Know Your History – 15th June – Brian Jacques born

know your history - writing

On this day… 15th June, 1939 – Brian Jacques born

James Brian Jacques (15 June 1939 – 5 February 2011) was an English writer best known for his Redwall series of novels and Castaways of the Flying Dutchman series. He also completed two collections of short stories entitled The Ribbajack & Other Curious Yarns and Seven Strange and Ghostly Tales. His novels have sold more than twenty million copies worldwide and have been published in twenty-eight languages

About the Writing

Jacques showed early writing talent.

At age 10, assigned to write an animal story, he wrote about a bird that cleaned a crocodile’s teeth. His teacher could not believe that a 10-year-old wrote it, and caned the boy for refusing to admit copying the story.

He had always loved to write, but only then did he realize the extent of his abilities.

Jacques was known to prefer old-fashioned ways; he always preferred an old typewriter as being more reliable than a computer. He allowed an animated television series to be produced on which he introduced himself each episode on PBS and answered children’s questions after the cartoon ended.Brian Jacques

Did You Know?..

Jacques worked with his local school for the blind, The Royal School in Liverpool one of the reasons given for why his books are so descriptive.