Christopher Robin Milne
|Christopher Robin Milne|
Young Milne with his stuffed bear, 1928
21 August 1920|
Chelsea, London, UK
20 April 1996 (aged 75)|
Totnes, Devon, England, UK
Boxgrove Preparatory School
|Alma mater||Trinity College, Cambridge|
|Spouse(s)||Lesley de Sélincourt (m. 1948; his death 1996)|
|Children||Clare Milne (1956–2012)|
A. A. Milne|
Dorothy de Sélincourt
Christopher Robin Milne (21 August 1920 – 20 April 1996) was the son of author A. A. Milne. As a child, he was the basis of the character Christopher Robin in his father's Winnie-the-Pooh stories and in two books of poems.
Christopher Robin Milne was born at 11 Mallord Street, Chelsea, London, at 8 AM on the morning of 21 Aug. 1920, to author Alan Alexander Milne and Dorothy (née de Sélincourt) Milne. Christopher Milne speculates he was an only child because "he had been a long time coming." From an early age, Christopher Milne was cared for by his nanny, Olive Brockwell, for over 8 years until May 1930, when Milne entered boarding school. Christopher Milne called her "Nou", and stated "Apart from her fortnight's holiday every September we had not been out of each other's sight for more than a few hours at a time," and "we lived together in a large nursery on the top floor.":19,21,55,97,104
Christopher's father explained Rosemary was the intended name, but decided upon Billy, without the intention of christening him William. Instead, each parent chose a name, hence Christopher Robin, his formal name until 1928. Yet, from 1925 onwards, he was referred to within the family as Moon, which was Christopher Milne's pronunciation of Milne. From 1929 onwards, he was referred to simply as Christopher, and as he states, it was "The only name I feel to be really mine.":17–18
At his first birthday, he received an Alpha Farnell teddy bear he called Edward. This bear, along with a real Canadian bear named "Winnipeg" that Milne saw at London Zoo, eventually became the inspiration for the Winnie-the-Pooh character.
Christopher spoke self-deprecatingly of his own intellect, "I may have been on the dim side", or "not very bright." He also described himself as being "good with his hands," and possessing a Meccano set. His self descriptions included "girlish", since he had long hair and wore "girlish clothes," and being "very shy and "un-self-possessed.":37–41,96
An early childhood friend was Anne Darlington, also an only child, who as Christopher described it, was for his parents "the Rosemary that I wasn't." In fact, Christopher's mother hoped they would marry one day, hopes she abandoned when Christopher turned 25.:22–24
In 1925, Christopher's father bought Cotchford Farm. Though still living in London, the family would spend weekends, Easter and summer holidays there. As Christopher described it, "So there we were in 1925 with a cottage, a little bit of garden, a lot of jungle, two fields, a river and then all the green, hilly countryside beyond, meadows and woods, waiting to be explored." The place became the inspiration for fiction, as Christopher described it, "Gill's Lap that inspired Galleon's Lap, the group of pine trees on the other side of the main road that became the Six Pine Trees, the bridge over the river at Posingford that became Pooh-sticks Bridge," and a nearby "ancient walnut tree" became Pooh's House. His toys, Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, plus two invented characters, Owl and Rabbit, came to life through Christopher and his mother, to the point where his father could write stories about them. Kanga and Tigger were later presents from his parents.:42,55,58,65,77,127:240
Of this time, Christopher states, "I loved my Nanny, I loved Cotchford. I also quite liked being Christopher Robin and being famous.":92
When his nanny departed when he was aged nine, Christopher's relationship with his father grew. As he put it, "For nearly ten years I had clung to Nanny. For nearly ten more years I was to cling to him, adoring him as I had adored Nanny, so that he too became almost a part of me..."
When Milne eventually wrote his memoirs, he dedicated them to Olive Brockwell, "Alice to millions, but Nou to me".:122,137,141,159
Of his time at boarding school, Christopher states, "For it was now that began that love-hate relationship with my fictional namesake that has continued to this day.":97
At age 6, Christopher and Anne attended Miss Walters' school. On 15 Jan. 1929, Christopher started attending Gibbs, a boys' day school, located on Sloane Square. In May 1930, he started boarding school at Boxgrove School near Guildford. Eventually, Christopher earned a mathematics scholarship at Stowe School and then Trinity in 1939. He finally departed Cotchford Farm in Aug. 1942.:23,49,90–91,121:3–5
In 1941, after World War II broke out, Christopher left his studies to join the army, but initially failed the medical examination. His father used his influence to help get Christopher a position as a sapper in the Royal Engineers. After the war, he returned to Cambridge and completed a degree in English literature.:13–21,104,116–118
On 11 April 1948, Christopher became engaged to Lesley de Sélincourt, a cousin on his mother's side, and married on 24 July 1948. In 1951, Milne and his wife moved to Dartmouth to found the Harbour Bookshop on 25 August. This turned out to be a success, although his mother had thought the decision odd, as Milne did not seem to like 'business', and as a bookseller would regularly have to meet Pooh fans.:167–168:107,129–133,147
Milne occasionally visited his father after the elder Milne became ill, but once his father died, he did not see his mother during the 15 years that passed before her death; even when she was on her deathbed, she refused to see her son. A few months after his father's death in 1956, Christopher's daughter Clare was born and diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy. She later ran a charity for the disabled called the Clare Milne Trust.
After his father died in 1956, Christopher never returned to Cotchford Farm. His mother eventually sold the farm and moved back to London, after disposing of his father's personal possessions. Though Christopher never wanted any part of his father's royalties, he instead wanted to write something for his sake. In the end, The Enchanted Places, as Christopher relates, "...combined to lift me from under the shadow of my father and of Christopher Robin, and to my surprise and pleasure I found myself standing beside them in the sunshine able to look them both in the eye."
Milne gave the original stuffed animals that inspired the Pooh characters to the books' editor, who in turn donated them to the New York Public Library; Marjorie Taylor (in her book Imaginary Companions and the Children Who Create Them) recounts how many were disappointed at this, and Milne had to explain that he preferred to concentrate on the things that currently interested him. He disliked the idea of Winnie-the-Pooh being commercialised.
Milne lived for some years with myasthenia gravis, and died in his sleep on 20 April 1996 in Totnes, Devon, aged 75. After his death he was described by one newspaper as a "dedicated atheist".
Christopher had one child, a daughter named Clare, who had cerebral palsy. In adult life, she led several charitable campaigns for the condition. She died in 2012 at the age of 56 from natural causes due to a heart abnormality.
- Thwaite, Ann. A.A. Milne: His Life London: Faber & Faber, 1990; ISBN 0-571-16168-5
- "Biography of C.R. Milne, with photographs of him at various ages throughout his life". Archived from the original on 18 June 2007. Retrieved 2015-07-12.
- BBC News article 27 November 2001: Christopher Robin revealed (describes the discovery in 2001 of images of Christopher Robin Milne captured on a 1929 film of a school pageant held in Ashdown Forest, East Sussex).
- Milne, Christopher (1975). The Enchanted Places. E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc. ISBN 0525292934.
- Milne, A.A. (2017). It's Too Late Now. London: Bello. p. 233. ISBN 9781509869701.
- History of Winnie the Pooh. Just-Pooh.com – Discover the magic world of Pooh. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
- "Winnie", Historica Minutes: The Historica Foundation of Canada; retrieved 30 May 2008.
- Milne, Christopher (1979). The Path Through the Trees. McClelland and Stewart. pp. 257–265. ISBN 0771060491.
- Thwaite, p485
- Thwaite, p. 542
- "supporting disability projects in Devon and Cornwall with grants". The Clare Milne Trust. Retrieved 2017-06-06.
- Taylor, Marjorie (1999). Imaginary Companions and the Children Who Create Them. Oxford University Press. p. 120. ISBN 0-19-507704-0.
- Heathcote, Graham (31 August 1980). "Christopher Robin turns 60". Kingman Daily Milner. p. 10.
- Ann Thwaite. "Obituary: Christopher Milne". The Independent. Retrieved 2017-06-06.
- "The books live on. But in real life Toad is dead; Alice is dead; Peter Pan and Wendy are long flown; and now Christopher Robin, a 'sweet and decent' man who overcame a childhood in which he was haunted by Pooh and taunted by peers, has left without saying his prayers – he was a dedicated atheist – aged 75." Euan Ferguson, 'Robin's gone, but swallows linger on,' The Observer, 28 April 1996, News, p. 14.
- Sumner, Stephen. "Beloved children's author's legacy lives on". Sidmouth Herald. Retrieved 2017-06-17.
- Mark Kermode (October 1, 2017). "Goodbye Christopher Robin review – delightful take on the difficult birth of Winnie-the-Pooh". The Guardian.