Christopher Robin Milne

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Christopher Robin Milne
Christopher Robin Milne.jpg
Milne in 1928
Born (1920-08-21)21 August 1920
Chelsea, London, UK
Died 20 April 1996(1996-04-20) (aged 75)
Totnes, Devon, UK
Education Gibbs School
Boxgrove Preparatory School
Stowe School
Alma mater Trinity College, Cambridge
Spouse(s)
Lesley de Sélincourt (m. 1948)
Children Clare Milne (1956–2012)
Parent(s) A. A. Milne
Daphne de Sélincourt

Christopher Robin Milne (21 August 1920 – 20 April 1996) was the son of author A. A. Milne, and a bookseller. 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.

Early life[edit]

Christopher Robin Milne was born at 11 Mallord Street, Chelsea, London, at 8 a.m. on 21 August 1920, to author Alan Alexander Milne and Daphne (née de Sélincourt) Milne. Milne speculates that he was an only child because "he had been a long time coming." From an early age Milne was cared for by his nanny, Olive Brockwell, for over eight years until May 1930, when he entered boarding school. 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."[1]:19,21,55,97,104

Milne's father explained that Rosemary was the intended name for their first born, if a girl. Realizing it was to be a boy, he decided upon Billy, but without the intention of christening him William. Instead, each parent chose a name, hence Christopher Robin, his formal name until 1928. He was referred to within the family as Billy Moon, based on his childhood mispronunciation of Milne.[2] From 1929 onwards, he was referred to simply as Christopher, and he later stated it was "The only name I feel to be really mine."[1]:17–18[3]

The real stuffed toys owned by Christopher Robin Milne and featured in the Winnie-the-Pooh stories. They have been on display in the New York Public Library in New York City since 1987, with the exception of Roo, who was lost when Milne was very young. According to the New York Public Library's web site, the items have been on display in the Children's Center at 42d Street, in the "main branch" of the library (the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street) since early 2009.

At his first birthday, Milne received an Alpha Farnell teddy bear, which he later named Edward. This bear, along with a real Canadian bear named Winnipeg that Milne saw at London Zoo,[4][5] eventually became the inspiration for the Winnie-the-Pooh character.

Milne 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'".[1]:37–41,96

An early childhood friend was Anne Darlington, also an only child, who as Milne described it, was for his parents "the Rosemary that I wasn't." In fact Milne's mother hoped they would marry one day, hopes she abandoned when Milne turned 25.[1]:22–24

In 1925, Milne's father bought Cotchford Farm, near Ashdown Forest in East Sussex. Though still living in London, the family would spend weekends, Easter and summer holidays there. As Milne 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, with Milne stating "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 Milne and his mother, to the point where his father could write stories about them. Kanga and Tigger were later presents from his parents.[1]:42,55,58,65,77,127[3]:240

Of this time, Milne states, "I loved my Nanny, I loved Cotchford. I also quite liked being Christopher Robin and being famous."[1]:92

When his nanny departed when he was aged 9, Milne'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".[1]:122,137,141,159

Of his time at boarding school, Milne says, "For it was now that began that love-hate relationship with my fictional namesake that has continued to this day."[1]:97

Schooling[edit]

At age 6, Milne and Anne Darlington attended Miss Walters' school. On 15 January 1929, Milne started at Gibbs, a boys' day school in Sloane Square, London. In May 1930, he started boarding school at Boxgrove School near Guildford. Eventually Milne earned a mathematics scholarship at Stowe School and then at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1939. He finally left Cotchford Farm in August 1942.[1]:23,49,90–91,121[6]:3–5

Later life[edit]

In 1941, during the Second World War, Milne left his studies to join the British Army, but initially failed the medical examination. His father used his influence to help get Milne a position as a sapper in the Royal Engineers. After the war, he returned to Cambridge and completed a degree in English literature.[6]:13–21,104,116–118

On 11 April 1948, Milne became engaged to Lesley de Sélincourt, a cousin on his mother's side, and they married on 24 July 1948. In 1951, he and his wife moved to Dartmouth and started 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 he would regularly have to meet Pooh fans.[1]:167–168[6]:107,129–133,147

Milne occasionally visited his father when the elder Milne became ill. After his father died, Milne never returned to Cotchford Farm. His mother eventually sold the farm and moved back to London, after disposing of his father's personal possessions. Milne, who did not want any part of his father's royalties, decided to write a book about his childhood. As Milne describes it, that book, The Enchanted Places, "...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."[6]

Following her husband's death, Daphne Milne had little further contact with her son, did not see him during the last 15 years of her life and refused to see him on her deathbed.[7][8]

A few months after his father's death in 1956, Milne's daughter Clare was born and diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy.

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.[9] He disliked the idea of Winnie-the-Pooh being commercialised.[10]

Death[edit]

Milne lived for some years with myasthenia gravis, and died in his sleep on 20 April 1996 in Totnes, Devon, aged 75.[11] After his death he was described by one newspaper as a "dedicated atheist".[12]

Family[edit]

Milne had one child, a daughter named Clare,[11] who had cerebral palsy. In adult life, she led several charitable campaigns for the condition, including the Clare Milne Trust.[13] She died in 2012 at the age of 56 of a heart abnormality.[14]

Portrayal[edit]

Milne is portrayed by Will Tilston and Alex Lawther in Goodbye Christopher Robin, a 2017 film "inspired by" his relationship with his father.[15]

In the 2018 fantasy film Christopher Robin, an extension of the Disney Winnie the Pooh franchise, Ewan McGregor stars as an adult version of the fictionalised Christopher Robin. Though the names of his family and career were changed, he is seen being discouraged from remembering his childhood and joining the war effort as an adult (both events from the historical Christopher Robin's life).

Bibliography[edit]

  • The Enchanted Places (Methuen, 1974) ISBN 978-0-14-003449-3
  • Path Through the Trees (Dutton, 1979) ISBN 978-0-525-17630-5
  • Hollow on the Hill (Methuen, 1982) ISBN 978-0-413-51270-3
  • The Windfall (Methuen, 1985) ISBN 0-413-58960-9
  • The Open Garden (Methuen, 1988) ISBN 0-413-40800-0

Sources[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Milne, Christopher (1975). The Enchanted Places. E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc. ISBN 0525292934.
  2. ^ "10 Things You Never Knew about Christopher Robin". Pan Macmillan. Retrieved 2018-08-21.
  3. ^ a b Milne, A.A. (2017). It's Too Late Now. London: Bello. p. 233. ISBN 9781509869701.
  4. ^ History of Winnie the Pooh. Just-Pooh.com – Discover the magic world of Pooh. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  5. ^ "Winnie", Historica Minutes: The Historica Foundation of Canada; retrieved 30 May 2008.
  6. ^ a b c d Milne, Christopher (1979). The Path Through the Trees. McClelland and Stewart. pp. 257–265. ISBN 0771060491.
  7. ^ Thwaite, p485
  8. ^ Thwaite, p542
  9. ^ Taylor, Marjorie (1999). Imaginary Companions and the Children Who Create Them. Oxford University Press. p. 120. ISBN 0-19-507704-0.
  10. ^ Heathcote, Graham (31 August 1980). "Christopher Robin turns 60". Kingman Daily Milner. p. 10.
  11. ^ a b Ann Thwaite. "Obituary: Christopher Milne". The Independent. Retrieved 2017-06-06.
  12. ^ "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.
  13. ^ "Supporting disability projects in Devon and Cornwall with grants". The Clare Milne Trust. Retrieved 2017-06-06.
  14. ^ Sumner, Stephen. "Beloved children's author's legacy lives on". Sidmouth Herald. Retrieved 2017-06-17.
  15. ^ Mark Kermode (October 1, 2017). "Goodbye Christopher Robin review – delightful take on the difficult birth of Winnie-the-Pooh". The Guardian.

External links[edit]