Happy Birthday Christopher Robin
On this day, Daphne Milne, wife of writer A.A. Milne, gives birth to a son, who the couple name Christopher Robin Milne. Christopher Robin will be immortalized in A.A. Milne’s books Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner.
A.A. Milne was born in London in 1882, the youngest of three sons. His parents were both schoolteachers; his father was headmaster at a school where H.G. Wells taught. His family claimed Milne taught himself to read at age two. He began writing humorous pieces as a schoolboy and continued at Cambridge, where he edited the undergraduate paper. In 1903, he left Cambridge and went to London to write. Although he was broke by the end of his first year, he persevered and supported himself until 1906 with his writing. That year, he joined humor magazine Punch as an editor and wrote humorous verse and essays for the magazine for eight years, until World War I broke out. While at Punch, he wrote his first book-for adults, not children.
In 1913, he married Daphne and two years later went to France to serve in World War I. While in the military, he wrote three plays, one of which, Mr. Pim Passes By, became a hit in 1919 and provided financial security for the family. In 1920, the couple’s only son, Christopher Robin, was born. In 1925, the family bought Cotchford Farm in Sussex; a nearby forest inspired the 100-Acre Wood where Winnie-the-Pooh’s adventures would be set.
Milne published two volumes of the verse he wrote for his son. When We Were Very Young was published in 1924, followed by Now We Are Six in 1927.
When Christopher Robin was about one, he received a stuffed bear as a present. The child soon accumulated a collection of similar animals, which inspired Milne to begin writing a series of whimsical stories about the toys. Winnie-the-Pooh was published in 1926 and The House at Pooh Corner in 1928. Ernest Shepard illustrated the books, using Christopher Robin and his animals as models.
A.A. Milne wrote numerous other books and plays, but is remembered almost solely for his beloved children’s work. He died in 1956.
Some Facts You May Not Know About Pooh
1. All of the animals portrayed in the story were inspired by Christopher Robin Milne’s (A.A. Milne’s son) stuffed animals, except for two: Owl and Rabbit, whom Milne and illustrator Ernest Shepard created to round out the menagerie. Sadly, Christopher Robin lost the Roo stuffed animal (the baby kangaroo) in an apple orchard in the 1930s, so it’s not with the display of original plush dolls.
2. It’s kind of surprising that as many of the stuffed animals lasted as long as they did, not only were they well-loved by Milne’s son, but they were also apparently well-loved by the family dog.
3. There’s been some speculation over the years that Pooh’s last name is Sanders, as in “Winnie-the-Pooh Sanders,” because he has the name “Sanders” written over the door of his house. As far as we know, this isn’t true. After stating the Pooh lived under the name of Sanders, the book clarifies, “It means he had the name over the door in gold letters and Pooh lived under it.” Most experts take this to mean that the previous resident was named Sanders and merely left his mark on the abode. We don’t know who the mysterious Mr. Sanders was; however, there is one unconfirmed explanation: a real-life man by the name of Frank Sanders had a printing press that printed some of Milne’s work and was a friend of the man who illustrated the Pooh books.
4. Winnie the Pooh is a pretty big deal in Russia he starred in three animated short stories in the late 60s and early 70s but he looks much different than both the animated Disney version and the version illustrated by Ernest Shepard.
5. Winnie-the-Pooh is the original spelling. Disney took out the hyphens when they made their animated series. Obviously those were huge successes, thus the spelling without the hyphens became more commonly known.
6. A first edition Winnie-the-Pooh book can go for anywhere from $700 for a book in decent condition to nearly $5,000 for a “presentation copy” signed book.
7. Hundred-Acre Wood is a real place in England. It’s based on a place called Ashdown Forest in East Sussex. Many of the landmarks found in the Pooh books can be found there, including Poohsticks Bridget, Galleon’s Lap (called Gill’s Lap in real life), Roo’s Sandpit and Heffalump Trap. In fact, in 2001, a 10-year-old boy took the “fake” map drawn by Ernest Shepard and navigated his way around Ashdown Forest for a documentary.
8. Winnie-the-Pooh has been released in many languages, including Esperanto and Latin. The Latin version (Winnie ille Pu) actually made it on to the New York Times bestseller list in 1960, making it the first-ever foreign language book to make it to the list. To this day, it’s the only Latin book that has ever charted.
10. The original Pooh bear was purchased at Harrod’s and was named Edward Bear.