Christopher Robin

Christopher Robin Milne with his Pooh bear

Christopher Robin Milne was born August 21, 1920 in Chelsea. His father, despite the affability which his children's books suggest, was distant, though amiable, with his one and only son. In keeping with Middle Class English tradition in the 1920's, Christopher Robin was brought up by a Nanny who looked after him most of the day. He was taken formally downstairs three times a day to visit his parents. Small, shy and unself possessed, Christopher Milne was clever with his hands. He loved sewing, knitting and making tapestry pictures. He dismantled clocks and locks, rigged up burglar alarms, and even turned a toy pistol into a dangerous weapon.

Christopher was sent to boarding school at Stowe. From Stowe he won a scholarship to read English at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1939. However, he did not return to university after his first year but instead spent some time with the Cotchford Local Defence Volunteers. Later that year Christopher joined the Corps of Royal Engineers and served in the Middle East and Italy for five years during World War II. During an enemy bombardment of a bridge which he had helped to design and build, Christopher sustained injuries from flying shrapnel. Small shards of the metal were left embedded in his brain, where they remained undetected until nearly fifty years later.

Christopher Robin dragging Pooh down the stairs

His war service began the severance of his links with his father. The relations between them became increasingly strained. Though burdened with the fame that rested uneasily on his reluctant shoulders, Christopher remained unfamiliar and unrecognised. By making him a household name in millions of homes throughout the world, A. A. Milne had "filched from me my good name and had left me with nothing but the empty fame of being his son." This process was furthered when, having returned to Cambridge and obtained a degree in English, Christopher decided in 1951 to leave London. He moved to the village of Stoke Fleming and set up a bookshop in nearby Dartmouth. For twenty years he ran the shop together with his wife, Lesley de Selincourt, a cousin whom he had married in 1949.

As he sat behind the counter of his bookshop, Milne was constantly pestered by matronly clients bringing in their progeny to shake hands with 'the original Christopher Robin'. He would do so with a wanly polite smile. For a fee of £10,- donated to the Save the Children Fund, he would also sign one of his father's books. He later took advantage of his unwanted fame and fronted a campaign to save Ashdown Forest from the ravages of oil prospectors. The area was not just the home of Owl and Rabbit, he said, but one of the few areas of outstanding natural beauty in the vicinity of London where city people could come to breath fresh air.

At the early age of 52, Christopher handed over the keys of the shop to Lesley, and sat at his portable typewriter to follow the literary path trodden years before by his father. His autobiographical books, 'The Enchanted Places' and 'The Path Through the Trees', explored the journey from his boyhood with his family in Cotchford to his life with his wife, Lesley, and their daughter, Clare, in Devon. It was only after finishing these autobiographical works, he said, that he could finally look his dreaded namesake in the eye and feel less embarrassed by him.

Pooh, Piglet and Christopher Robin jump and dance

Christopher battled bravely for some years with myasthenia gravis, a neurological decease, and passed away peacefully in his sleep on April 20th, 1996. His life was celebrated in a small Quaker gathering of family and friends.

In our characters section, you can read more about the fictional character of Christopher Robin.