Once on a Time by A. A. Milne

ONCE ON A TIME

By

A.A. Milne

DECORATED
BY CHARLES
ROBINSON

 

GROSSET & DUNLAP
Publishers          New York
By Arrangement with G. P. Putnam’s Sons

 


 

PREFACE

This book was written in 1915, for the amusement of my wife and myself at a time when life was not very amusing; it was published at the end of 1917; was reviewed, if at all, as one of a parcel, by some brisk uncle from the Tiny Tots Department; and died quietly, without seriously detracting from the interest which was being taken in the World War, then in progress.

It may be that the circumstances in which the book was written have made me unduly fond of it. When, as sometimes happens, I am introduced to a stranger who starts the conversation on the right lines by praising, however insincerely, my books, I always say, “But you have not read the best one.” Nine times out of ten it is so. The tenth takes a place in the family calendar; St. Michael or St. Agatha, as the case may be, a red-letter or black-letter saint, according to whether the book was bought or borrowed. But there are few such saints, and both my publisher and I have the feeling (so common to publishers and authors) that there ought to be more. So here comes the book again, in a new dress, with new decorations, yet much, as far as I am concerned, the same book, making the same appeal to me; but, let us hope, a new appeal, this time, to others.

Download the book:

For whom, then, is the book intended? That is the trouble. Unless I can say, “For those, young or old, who like the things which I like,” I find it difficult to answer. Is it a children’s book? Well, what do we mean by that? Is The Wind in the Willows a children’s book? Is Alice in Wonderland?Is Treasure Island? These are masterpieces which we read with pleasure as children, but with how much more pleasure when we are grown-up. In any case what do we mean by “children”? A boy of three, a girl of six, a boy of ten, a girl of fourteen—are they all to like the same thing? And is a book “suitable for a boy of twelve” any more likely to please a boy of twelve than a modern novel is likely to please a man of thirty-seven; even if the novel be described truly as “suitable for a man of thirty-seven”? I confess that I cannot grapple with these difficult problems.

But I am very sure of this: that no one can write a book which children will like, unless he write it for himself first. That being so, I shall say boldly that this is a story for grown-ups. How grown-up I did not realise until I received a letter from an unknown reader a few weeks after its first publication; a letter which said that he was delighted with my clever satires of the Kaiser, Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Asquith, but he could not be sure which of the characters were meant to be Mr. Winston Churchill and Mr. Bonar Law. Would I tell him on the enclosed postcard? I replied that they were thinly disguised on the title-page as Messrs. Hodder & Stoughton. In fact, it is not that sort of book.

But, as you see, I am still finding it difficult to explain just what sort of book it is. Perhaps no explanation is necessary. Read in it what you like; read it to whomever you like; be of what age you like; it can only fall into one of two classes. Either you will enjoy it, or you won’t.

It is that sort of book.

A. A. Milne.

Contents

I.—The King of Euralia has a Visitor to Breakfast

II.—The Chancellor of Barodia has a Long Walk Home

III.—The King of Euralia Draws his Sword

IV.—The Princess Hyacinth Leaves it to the Countess

V.—Belvane Indulges her Hobby

VI.—There are no Wizards in Barodia

VII.—The Princess Receives a Letter and Writes One

VIII.—Prince Udo Sleeps Badly

IX.—They are Afraid of Udo

X.—Charlotte Patacake Astonishes the Critics

XI.—Watercress Seems to go with the Ears

XII.—We Decide to Write to Udo’s Father

XIII.—”Pink” Rhymes with “Think”

XIV.—”Why Can’t you be like Wiggs?”

XV.—There is a Lover Waiting for Hyacinth

XVI.—Belvane Enjoys Herself

XVII.—The King of Barodia Drops the Whisker Habit

XVIII.—The Veteran of the Forest Entertains Two Very Young People

XIX.—Udo Behaves Like a Gentleman

XX.—Coronel Knows a Good Story when he Hears it

XXI.—A Serpent Coming after Udo

XXII.—The Seventeen Volumes go back Again