Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Christopher Robin Milne
Christopher Robin Milne (August 21, 1920 – April 20, 1996) was the son of author Alan Alexander Milne and Dorothy de Selincourt. The character Christopher Robin in the Winnie the Pooh stories was named after him.
Christopher Robin Milne was born at 11 Mallord St, Chelsea, London at 8am in the morning. His parents had decided that the baby was going to be a girl and that they would call her Rosemary, when it turned out to be a boy they wanted to call him Billy. They decided against this on the basis that Billy was too informal a name and they disliked the name William. Finally they decided that it would be better anyway to give the child two first names as this would help to distinguish him from other Milne's, and each parent choose a name.
Although officially he was named Christopher Robin, his parents often referred to him as Billy. When Christopher began to talk he pronounced his own surname as Moon not Milne. Thus his family would often call him "Billy", "Moon", or "Billy Moon" instead of Christopher Robin. In later life he became known just as Christopher.
On Christopher's first birthday he received an Alpha Farnell Teddy Bear. This bear, along with a real bear named "Winnie" that Christopher saw at the London Zoo, would eventually become the basis for the character of Winnie the Pooh. The teddy bear was described as being about two feet tall, light in color, frequently losing his eyes, and a fairly constant companion to Christopher.
In keeping with an English tradition, Christopher was brought up by a nanny. Meetings with his parents were restricted to short periods just after breakfast, at tea time and in the evening just before he went to bed.
Christopher was a shy boy and did not like the attention that he received from the public because of his father's success with the Pooh books. It was determined that Christopher would be sent to Prep School at Gibbs, London in 1929. His father also announced that The House at Pooh Corner would be the last Christopher Robin book. The popularity of the Pooh books however made it almost impossible for Christopher Robin to enjoy a 'normal' life even though no more Pooh books were written.
From Gibbs Christopher Robin went on to boarding school at Stowe where he learned to box as a way to defend himself from the taunting of his classmates. In 1939 he won a fellowship to read English at Trinity College, Cambridge.
It wasn't long before the Second World War broke out which led Christopher to leave his studies and attempt to join the army. He was disappointed when he learned that he had failed the medical exams and was therefore turned down. His father then used his influence to get Christopher a position with the second training battalion of the Royal Engineers. He received his commission in July 1942 and was then posted to the Middle East and Italy.
Although Christopher had always had a close relationship with his father, this bond was broken by his time away and he began to resent what he saw as his father's exploitation of him. He also came to hate the books that had thrust him into the public eye. After being discharged from the army he went to Cambridge to complete his studies. There he graduated with a Third Class Honours degree in English.
On July 24, 1948 Christopher married his cousin Lesley Selincourt. His mother, Dorothy de Selincourt, disliked this partially because she did not get along with Lesley's father, who was Dorothy's brother. Dorothy wanted Christopher to marry his childhood friend, Anne Darlington. In 1951, Christopher and Lesley moved to Dartmouth to start the Harbour Bookshop. This was fairly ironic since he resented the fame that came to him from his father's books. However, Christopher's career as a bookseller turned out to be a success. Dorothy thought the decision very odd, inasmuch as Christopher didn't seem to like "business" and would have to meet Pooh fans all the time. While both of these factors would cause their frustrations, Christopher and Lesley successfully established and ran their bookshop for many years -- and that without any help from royalties derived from sales of the Pooh Books. He returned occasionally to visit his father after he became ill, but once he died did not visit his mother again in the fifteen years up to her death.
A few months after Alan's death in 1956, Christopher and Lesley's daughter, Clara Milne was born. Alan's fears for Christopher and Lesley's future offspring had proven justified; Clara was born severely palsied. And yet, in devising means to give her as much independence as possible, Christopher's rather unusual combination of a mathematician's brain and a woodworker's hands finally shone.
In 1974 Christopher decided to publish the first of three autobiographical books. The Enchanted Places gave an account of his childhood and of the problems that he had encountered because of the Pooh books.
Christopher battled for some years with myasthenia gravis, a neurological disease, and passed away peacefully in his sleep on April 20th, 1996. His life was celebrated in a small Quaker gathering of family and friends.
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