Christopher Robin Milne, immortalized as the young friend of Winnie the Pooh in the children’s stories by his father, A.A. Milne, has died, the Times of London reported today. He was 75.
The newspaper said Christopher Robin Milne died Saturday, but it did not say where he died or give the cause of death.
Milne was born in London and was known to resent, as an adult, the melding of his real childhood and the fictional one in his father’s tales.
In 1924, Alan Alexander Milne, well-known for his fiction, published a book of verse inspired by his 4-year-old son, “When We Were Very Young.”
His son’s affection for a bear named Winnie at the London zoo became the model of hugely successful children’s books - “Winnie-the-Pooh” (1926), the verses “Now We Are Six” (1927) and “The House at Pooh Corner” (1928).
Pooh made his entry in the first book being dragged down a staircase by Christopher Robin, backward, on his head.
“It is, as as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it.
“Anyhow, here he is at the bottom, and ready to be introduced to you. Winnie the Pooh.”
In photographs, it is clear how closely A.A. Milne modeled the fictional Christopher Robin on his son: the same wide, inquisitive brown eyes, the same carefully cropped mop top, the same gingham smock.
But the grown Christopher Milne displayed a tendency to counter his father’s wishes. He dropped out of Cambridge in 1939 to enlist in the army; he was wounded in Italy during World War II.
He married his cousin Lesley de Selincourt in 1949 - again, not his father’s choice for his bride - and became a bookseller, settling in Stoke Fleming on England’s southwestern coast.
He endured countless parents pressing Pooh books into his hands and asking for an autograph; in return, he asked for a donation to his favorite charity, Save the Children.
In private, he pursued his passion for carpentry, building special furniture for his daughter, who suffered from cerebral palsy.
His father died in 1956, and Christopher Milne remained silent about the effect of the series’ immense popularity on his life until 1974, when he published “The Enchanted Places.” It was followed by “The Path Through the Trees” in 1979 and “The Hollow on the Hill” in 1982.
Milne described his father as a man who used his small son’s youth to stave off his own middle age.
“When I was 3, my father was 3. When I was 6, he was 6. … He needed me to escape from being 50,” he wrote.
He also said his father kept his only child at a distance: “His heart remained buttoned up all through his life.”
He also resented the confusing of his childhood with popular legend. He could not remember whether it was the real or fictional Christopher Robin who had invented the game of “pooh-sticks,” dropping sticks from a wooden bridge into a flowing stream.
At the end of “The House at Pooh Corner,” A.A. Milne leaves boy and bear in a pine wood - the tale is over because Christopher Robin is about to go to school.
But, the father wrote, “wherever they go and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the forest, a little boy and his bear will always be playing.”
Christopher Robin Milne is survived by his wife and daughter. Funeral arrangements were not immediately known.
Nick Anderson/Houston Chronicle
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