The Real Christopher Robin

Chistopher Robin was famous even before Winnie the Pooh. Christopher Robin was born in August of 1920, and in 1923, his father, A.A. Milne, published the poem Vespers in Vanity Fair. The poem became an overnight sensation.

Little Boy kneels at the foot of the bed,
Droops on the little hands little gold head.
Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares!
Christopher Robin is saying his prayers.

The Christopher Robin character in that poem and later in the Winnie the Pooh books was based on the author’s own son, Christopher Robin Milne. Later, the real Christopher Robin would tell of his embarrassment with the unwanted fame his father forced upon him. He described Vespers as a source of “toe-curling, fist-clenching, lip-biting” shame during his childhood. He  became uncomfortable with a father wrote so lovingly about the imaginary Christopher Robin, yet remained distant from the real Christopher Robin, who was raised by a nanny and send off to boarding school at 10. throughout his childhood, he was teased and sometimes bullied by other children because of his connection to his father’s bbooks

Of course, many of the characters in the Winnie the Pooh books were based on the real Christopher Robin’s toys and childhood fanatsies. Yet, the real Christopher Robin felt that his fictional representation never really captured who he was, and was an introvert who felt his privacy was grossly invaded. By age 10, the real Christopher Robin had displayed a great talent for precision handiwork, and had converted a toy gun to fire real bullets. Perhaps this was clue to the anger within.  He never did escape being seen as the fictional character in his father’s works. Even when he died in 1996 at age 75, the New York Times obituary ran under the headline “Pooh’s Christopher Robin Milne Dead at 75,” and Reuters exclaimed, “‘Christopher Robin’, hero of Pooh tales, dies.”

It would be many years before Christopher Robin forgave his father and reconciled with him. Like his father, Christopher developed a love for mathematics, books, and cricket. Christopher Milne started a family of his own and became a father. His daughter Clare was born with severe cerebral palsy.

The real Christopher Milne

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