June 5, 2010

Christopher Robin Milne

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
"Pooh," he whispered.
Yes, Piglet?
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw,
"I just wanted
to be sure of you."

Alan Alexander Milne, son of John Vine Milne and Sarah Maria Heginbotham, was born 18 Jan 1882 in Hampstead, England. He grew up in Kilburn, London at Henley House School, a small independent school run by his father.

He met Dorothy “Daphne” de Selincourt at her coming-out dance. The daughter of Martin Robert Selincourt and Mabel Speed, Daphne was born 1890 in Battersea, England. They married 4 Jun 1913 in Chelsea where their son, Christopher Robin Milne, was born in 1920.

Two years later, Milne wrote a story about a boy named Christopher Robin, named after his son, and various characters inspired by Christopher’s stuffed animals … most notably a bear named Winnie-the-Pooh. Originally named "Edward", the bear was renamed: "Winnie" after a Canadian black bear (Winnipeg) that was used as a military mascot in World War I and left to London Zoo and "Pooh" after a swan called "Pooh". Winnie-the-Pooh was published in 1926, followed by The House at Pooh Corner (1928).

In 1925, the Milne’s bought “Crotchford Farm”, a country home in Hartfield, East Sussex. During World War II, he was Captain of the Home Guard in Hartfield and Forest Row, insisting on being plain 'Mr. Milne' to the members of his platoon. He retired to the farm after a stroke and brain surgery in 1952 left him an invalid and died at Crotchford Farm on 31 Jan 1956. Daphne died in 1971.

Christopher Robin Milne was born 21 Aug 1920 in Chelsea, England and died 20 Apr 1996 in Teignbridge, England. In Jul 1948 he married his cousin, Lesley de Selincourt, daughter of Aubrey de Selincourt and Irene Rutherford McLeod. Lesley was born abt. 1920. Their daughter, Clare Milne, was born in 1956.

About Lesley, Christopher wrote: “Although Lesley had an older sister, a four-year gap and a great difference in temperament lay between them. So, like me, she had led the life of a solitary child and like me she had enjoyed it. We had both of us been brought up in the country, both of us had spent long, happy hours wandering alone through the fields and woods, sitting alone under trees, lying alone in the grass. Like me she preferred animals to humans. Our discovery was that though we were both solitaries we liked being solitary in each other's company. We enjoyed walking together along a country footpath, we enjoyed sitting together on a sofa, we enjoyed lying together beneath a hedge. Together we were yet separate; touching, yet silent; she and I each engaged with our own thoughts—yet lost and lonely now without the presence of the other.”
The Path Through the Trees

About being the muse of “Winnie the Pooh”, he wrote: “So if I seem ill at ease posing as Christopher Robin this is because posing as Christopher Robin does today makes me feel ill at ease. And if I seem to write most happily about the ordinary things that boys do who live in the country it is because this is the part of my childhood that I look back upon with the greatest affection.

It is difficult to say which came first. Did I do something and did my father then write a story around it? Or was it the other way about, and did the story come first? Certainly my father was on the look-out for ideas; but so too was I. He wanted ideas for his stories, I wanted them for my games, and each looked towards the other for inspiration. But in the end it was all the same: the stories became a part of our lives; we lived them, thought them, spoke them. And so, possibly before, but certainly after that particular story, we used to stand on Pooh-sticks Bridge throwing sticks into the water and watching them float away out of sight until they re-emerged on the other side.” –The Enchanted Places

Christopher died on 20 Apr 1996.

His obituary: "Christopher Robin Milne, bookshop owner, died on April 20, 1996 aged 75. He was born on August 21, 1920. Christopher Robin Milne was the reluctant possessor of one of the most evocative Christian names in Britain. Immortalized by his father, the writer A. A. Milne, as the gingham-smocked companion of Winnie the Pooh, he struggled throughout his life to rid himself of the bothersome legacy of his fictionalized childhood. Milne is survived by his wife Lesley, and a daughter who has cerebral palsy."

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