"The Red House Mystery" is a classic novel by Alan Milne, who is actually better known for writing "Winnie the Pooh." Set in a country home known as the "Red House," the novel opens on a party weekend, with most of the houseguests away from the house playing golf or tennis. A typical "locked room mystery," the novel features characters who may not be all they seem to be, acting for mysterious motives ranging from love to revenge. Servants overhear bits of conversation which offer clues. The discovery of a secret passage, the appearance of a ghost, and a convenient lake to hide evidence all become part of the plot. Written in 1922, before Winnie the Pooh was even born, "The Red House Mystery" was a gift for Milne's father, a retired headmaster who loved mysteries. The book was immediately popular; Alexander Woollcott called it "one of the three best mystery stories of all time", and Raymond Chandler, in his 1944 essay The Simple Art of Murder called it "an agreeable book, light, amusing in the Punch style, written with a deceptive smoothness that is not as easy as it looks."
A.A. Milne grew up in a school - his parents ran Henley House in Kilburn, for young boys - but never intended to be a children's writer. Pooh he saw as a pleasant sideline to his main career as a playwright and regular scribe for the satirical literary magazine, Punch.
Writing was very much the dominant feature of A.A. (Alan Alexander)'s life. He joined the staff of Punch in 1906, and became Assistant Editor. In the course of two decades he fought in the First World War, wrote some 18 plays and three novels, and fathered a son, Christopher Robin Milne, in 1920 (although he described the baby as being more his wife's work than his own!).
Observations of little Christopher led Milne to produce a book of children's poetry, When We Were Very Young, in 1924, and in 1926 the seminal Winnie-the-Pooh. More poems followed in Now We Are Six (1927) and Pooh returned in The House at Pooh Corner (1928). After that, in spite of enthusiastic demand, Milne declined to write any more children's stories as he felt that, with his son growing up, they would now only be copies based on a memory.