Autograph letter signed to Ernest H. Shepard.
Autograph letter signed from A. A. Milne to Ernest H. Shepard discussing the progress of the latest Pooh book and a potential collaboration on a volume of Mother Goose rhymes. Milne begins, “Dear Shepard, I enclose the latest Pooh. I saw the drawings of the first two at Methuens yesterday, and loved them”. Milne is referring to Winnie-the-Pooh, which was in production during the first half of 1926 and published on October 14th of that year. It appears that Shepard was illustrating individual chapters as Milne wrote them, here having completed drawings for two chapters and awaiting more text. Milne goes on to discuss the planned Mother Goose (which would not be completed). In March of that year he had signed a contract with Dutton’s to prepare an edition of these rhymes to be illustrated by Shepard and delivered before 1st February, 1927 (Thwaite p. 527). “My idea is that when I have chosen the nursery rhymes to go in–about 51, I should think–but some will be very short–we should each make our own comments on them independently–I in words and you in pictures”. As evidenced by this letter, Milne had an unusually supportive relationship with his illustrator. Earlier that year he had offered Shepard a 20% stake in the royalties from Winnie-the-Pooh, an unprecedented move at the time (Thwaite pp. 296-297). Now his offer is even more generous, as he proposes “that we share 50/50” of the Mother Goose royalties. He closes with an invitation, “We go to Cotchford today till May 3rd. Do come over–with family or without some time. You may have other suggestions to make about Mother Goose, and anyhow we should be delighted to see you. Yours ever, A. A. Milne”. A very nice letter providing a glimpse into one of the most important creative partnerships in children’s literature. Provenance: from the collection of Pat McInally.
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Double-sided letter signed on a single sheet of Milne’s printed stationery. A few very minor creases at the lower left corner. Excellent condition.