The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh

A. A. Milne’s classic stories Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner have delighted parents and children for nearly a century.  The real landscape that inspired Milne and his illustrator E. H. Shepard was Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, an area of outstanding natural beauty. Part travelogue and natural history, this talk weaves history with humor, and birdsong with booklore. Kathryn Aalto tells the story of the real places and the rare flora and fauna in the forest that inspired Milne to create the Hundred Acre Wood, arguably the most beloved setting in children’s literature. Learn about Milne’s extraordinary childhood and remarkable writing career as well as his creative partnership with Shepard that captured generations of readers. Leave with a new understanding of how the Winnie-the-Pooh books are field guides for 21st-century Christopher Robins — hymns to those days of doing nothing yet learning everything. A 45-minute talk with a generous Q&A. 


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“Kathryn’s journey through the real landscapes that inspired Winnie-the-Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood is delightful and insightful. Her presentation is not only an engaging travelogue through the hills and forests of England but also a deeper dive into the creative process, and nature as inspiration for writers and artists.”        Richard A. Kissel, PhD, Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University

“Not only was Ms. Aalto thoroughly prepared and professional in her presentation, she was completely charming and engaging to our audience. As a rule, we have a very smart crowd. Ms. Aalto left the crowd delighted and satisfied with their evening out, something that does not always happen with an author presentation! We would gladly have her back for future programs…in fact it cannot be soon enough!”              Jacques Lamarre, Director of Communications, The Mark Twain House & Museum, Hartford, CT

“I directed Kathryn for a short ‘taster’ film for a pitch of the documentary version of her book ‘The Natural World of Winnie the Pooh’ for BBC Four. I couldn’t have asked for more from a presenter – she was extremely well prepared with excellent, engaging delivery and the ability to take direction and think on her feet. I very much hope we get to work together in the future.” Jake Hayes, BBC producer

“Kathryn spoke to a large crowd, thoroughly engaging the audience in the details of Ashdown Forest, A.A. Milne’s life, and that of Christopher Robin. Kathryn’s presentation style was direct, warm, and intimate supported by a strong dose of nostalgia from the audience—a winning combination.” Pam Thompson, Manager of Adult Education, Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University

“I’ve conducted many on-air interviews throughout the last 20 years. You don’t always know what you’re going to get until you’re actually into the interview. Within 10 seconds of my first question with Kathryn, I knew my audience was in for a real treat. Kathryn was engaging, informative, very much at ease, and immediately sucked me into Winnie-the-Pooh’s world. I now have this penchant to play Poohsticks, and I’ve updated my bucket list to include a visit to Ashdown Forest.” Bryan Earl, Host of the Zesty Garden, Utah Public Radio

“We were honored to welcome Kathryn Aalto to the Hudson Library & Historical Society for a truly memorable evening. Kathryn knows how to engage an audience with the right amount of warmth, insight and humor. Her well-researched multimedia presentation, full of beautiful photographs and even the sounds of nature, captured the delight of the Winnie-the-Pooh stories and the beauty of Ashdown Forest. I know many of us left inspired to revisit the stories as well as embark on our own explorations of nature.” Polly Reynolds, Hudson Library & Historical Society, Ohio, USA

“Kathryn Aalto’s knowledge of her work and study is outstanding. She takes this information and shares this enjoyable journey to different types of audiences. I have witnessed her programs for people and children of all ages and have been very impressed on how she changes and makes the information appropriate for the audience she has before her. I highly recommend Kathryn.” — Benjamin Sapp, M.A., Director, The Mazza of International Art from Picture Books


“A vivid guide to the 6,000 acres of Ashdown Forest in England, a landscape celebrated by A. A. Milne and illustrator E. H. Shepard as the make-believe Hundred Acre Wood where Christopher Robin and their friends had their adventures.”  The New York Times 

“Aalto’s lovely book provides two great pleasures: a visit to the actual wild spots that inform the fictional Pooh world and a chance to slip into our memories of the books themselves.”   The Washington Post 

“Lavishly illustrated with superb photographs as well as reproductions of the delightfully familiar Shepard illustrations…an affectionate book written with enthusiasm.” The Wall Street Journal 

“A delightful exploration of Ashdown Forest, the 6,000-acre wildlife haven in southeast England that inspired A. A. Milne’s Hundred Acre Wood.” People Magazine 

“The book is an easy, casual read, though Aalto covers a lot of ground, from biographical detail on Milne and illustrator E.H. Shepard to details on Hundred Acre Wood landmarks like the real Poohsticks Bridge or the streambed where Pooh discovered the North Pole (which he promptly picks up and takes with him).” The Raleigh News & Observer 

“Expertly researched but with a lightness of touch that makes a fascinating read for lovers both of Ashdown Forest and the books of A.A. Milne – the magic of the ‘place’ and the Pooh stories are bought together beautifully.” Pat Buesnel, Director, Conservators of Ashdown Forest, The Ashdown Forest Centre 

“Beautifully written and thoroughly researched, The Natural World of Winnie-the Pooh provides an intimate look into the magic and inspirations behind Milne’s stories, while reminding us of the joy children experience through nature.” Richard Louv, author, The Nature Principle and Last Child in the Woods

“A fun book with a serious heart.” The Northumbrian 

The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh reminds us that the Hundred Acre Wood is quite real and very much alive. Everyone who loves Pooh and Piglet and Christopher Robin will cherish this behind-the-scenes exploration of A. A Milne’s world.” Amy Stewart, author, The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the  World’s Great Drinks 

“An intimate guide to the forest’s history, geology, animals, colours and textures.  Tantalising descriptions and photographs invite us to slow our pace, look and listen.” BBC Wildlife Magazine 

“Take this book outdoors, settle into a cushy spot and listen to birds and the breeze as you follow in Winnie’s footprints and see the places that are the foundations to E.H. Shepard’s illustrations, which are as iconic as Milne’s words.” The Oregonian 

“If you grew up with Winnie-the-Pooh, you’ll enjoy this new book. It finds all the places in Ashdown Forest that inspired the stories.” My Weekly 

“For anyone who has read and reread Milne’s stories, Aalto furnishes a delightful addition to these classic tales, reawakening the childlike wonder and amusement first experienced when reading the books inspired by these locations.”  Shelf Awareness Reader  

“Kathryn Aalto has skillfully woven together the geology, geography, history and natural history of the Forest … providing a travelogue, a guide, a nature spotting manual, and a nostalgic glimpse of the past, all rolled into a delightful and eminently readable book, profusely illustrated with photographs and drawings.” The Garden Window 

The Natural World of Winne-the-Pooh is for those adult readers who have spent years being intrigued by the fictional Hundred Acre Wood and want to know if their  imaginations and stories are in fact based on a real place.” The Durham Herald Sun

 “The book is well researched and includes many photographs of the forest today, but it is the charm of Aalto’s prose that carries us into this Enchanted Place. In this book she has given us some biography, geography, and botany, but most of all a trip back in time to a loving childhood.”The Recorder 

“Nature enthusiasts will find much to enjoy in landscape designer and historian Kathryn Aalto’s The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh, where she discusses the Ashdown Forest, the real woodland setting where Milne’s son often wandered with his stuffed animals in tow. Parents nostalgic for a bygone era when children lost track of time playing outdoors might consider Aalto’s book a companion guide to the Pooh tales, a gentle reminder that so much of childhood is founded on magic and secret hideaway places.”Fine Books Magazine 

“What [Aalto] does brilliantly is take you inside that hollow, beside the stream, into the forest, and shows how they informed [Milne’s] writing.” Alan Titchmarsh, MBE, at the Garden Museum Literary Festival 

“Packed with E.H. Shepard’s original illustrations and hundreds of contemporary and historical photographs, this book is essential reading for all who cherish A.A. Milne’s classic tales.” Crowborough Life 

“Aalto’s book explores Milne’s deep connection to the natural world, and the real-life inspirations behind the stories that have lasted for generations.” Minnesota Public Radio 

“This is a beautifully produced book with an unusual premise that will delight the knowledgeable landscape designer and lay reader alike…Aalto’s book enriches our understanding of the world of this iconic children’s story.” Landscape Architecture Magazine 

“A nostalgic read that explores the magical reality behind the fictitious world of Winnie the-Pooh and the Hundred Acre Wood.” — Gardens Illustrated 

The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh takes us through the land of Pooh and his friends, with descriptions and explanations as to how the stories unfolded before Christopher Robin and came to be told by his father. We learn a little about method writing (brilliant!), and a lot about the charming area, including flora and fauna. By the time we’re done with the book, we have not only a wonderful sense of place, but an even greater appreciation for the Pooh stories. It’s a marvellous blend of information that carries enough appeal that it will satisfy the writer, the reader, and the gardener.” Our Little Acre 

the natural world of winnie the-pooh book