Christopher Robin Milne was the son of A.A. Milne. He was known to his family as "Billy Moon." The "Moon" part came from the way Christopher said the family name when he was little. "Billy" was the family's name for him, because they originally wanted to
christen him William. This is a picture of A.A. Milne and Christopher (with a certain Mr. Edward Bear). Christopher Milne died in 1996.
This poem was written for Christopher by Brian Biddle. I found it in the alt.fan.pooh newsgroup.
A Bear and His Boy
It seems so long since holidays in Hundred Acre Wood
When you and I, and all our friends, would have adventures there.
And even if it rained or snowed, the times were always good,
Life was always magical, for a small boy and his bear.
But I never thought that all we had, could not forever be.
I'm just a bear of little brain and these things bother me.
They tell me you have gone away and never will return.
They tell me life is ended and it cannot be repaired
By use of thread and needle, and they tell me I must learn
That things must have an ending, never mind if it be fair.
And they tell me that the boy I knew has died an aged man
I'm just a bear of little brain I do not understand.
So in the woods we gather as we did in better years
Eeyore and Owl stand silent, with Kanga, Rabbit and Roo,
And Tigger's stopped his bouncing, Piglet's eyes are glazed with tears,
They look to me for comfort as if I know what to do.
And it's then we see him standing there, beneath the hunny-tree.
And for this bear of little brain some things seem meant to be.
For Christopher and old Pooh Bear some things will ever be.
Once upon a time, a long time ago now, about last 1925, Christopher Milne left Mallord Street in Chelsea with his mother and father to live at Cotchford Farm in Sussex.
A.A. Milne always acknowledged that it was his wife, Daphne, and his young son, Christopher Robin, who inspired him to write the poems and stories the literary journey began in 1924 when the Very Young Christopher Robin was introduced to an American black bear at the London Zoological Gardens. As he watched his father, Alan Alexander Milne, pipe in mouth, on the putting green at Cotchford, the young country-lover was innnocently unaware of the literary adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh, which had begun during the wet Welsh summer of 1923 and the effect the bear would have on his life. He would explore many paths and by-roads along the route from Cotchford; Miss Walters' School in Tite Street, Chelsea; Gibbs' day school near Sloane Square; Boxgrove, Guildford; Stowe; Trinity College, Cambridge; the Army to the Harbour Bookshop in Dartmouth, Devon.
There is apparently some difference of opinion concerning Christopher's relations with bears. Laurence Irving, grandson of Henry Irving, the legendary Victorian actor and the first Knight of the English theatre has told friends a story of how his neighbour, Alan Milne, had asked him if he would include his son, Christopher, in their next family visit to the London Zoo. Irving agreed, as he felt sure Christopher
would enjoy both a day with his children and what would be the young boy's first visit to the Zoo. The expedition took place a few days afterwards. All was fun and excitement for the children, until their arrival at the polar bears' 'house.' At his first sight of the huge white 'monster,' Christopher burst into tears and insisted on being taken
home. The party, led by Irving and followed by one miserable crying child who wanted to leave and two very unhappy crying children who wanted to remain, hurriedly left Regent's Park. Some weeks later, Milne told a story of Christopher's first triumphant visit to the Zoo, where he had met and fallen in love with a bear and that this had inspired him to write a poem or two to celebrate the occasion and perhaps even eventually a story honouring the visit! It is hard to sort out the two stories. Perhaps there was some romanticising. Another version relates that Christopher was taken on a family outing to the London Zoo with Irving's daughter Pamela, and the daughter of their mutual friend, John Hastings Turner, and that, after a little trepidation, the young boy decided he liked the huge and friendly bear.
The writer, Enid Blyton, of The Famous Five fame, reported that Alan Milne had told her "the bear hugged Christopher Robin and they had a glorious time together, rolling about and pulling ears and all sorts of things." But, I feel it unlikely that a four-year-old boy could romp about with a 10-year-old American black bear as Milne described, but "You never can tell," says Pooh! Whatever the real story is, there is no doubt that the young Christopher Robin did befriend Winnie at the London Zoo as is evidenced in the picture of him feeding the bear with condensed milk on one of his visits. If you look closely, you will see Alan Milne behind the bars of the bear's enclosure.
During these adventurous years, Christopher began frequently, and often rudely, to be mistaken for the Christopher Robin portrayed in his father's books, Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, and in poems such as Vespers, Buckingham Palace, The Engineer, Lines and Squares, In the Dark, James James Morrison Morrison.
The real Christopher, only hinted at in Us Two and Market Square, remained unfamiliar and unrecognised, though burdened with the fame that rested uneasily on his reluctant shoulders. 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."
Available photographs provide some information about Christopher's clothes. We only have a few photographs at this time so our inforation is limited. We notice that as an adult he commented negatively on his smock. We have not yet found, however, any detailed written information describing his childhood clothes. It is interesting to compare the photographs to the charming illustrations by Ernest Shepherd in the Christopher Robin/Winnie the Poo books. The photographs show Christopher wearing many different garments and not the rather limited number of garments Shepard used in his illustrations. We do see the garments Shepherd illustrated, but they were not the only item's Christopher wore.
Christopher wire bangs as a boy before goinf off to boarding school. His wear was worn over his ears, but well above the shouldrs.
Father and son saw very little of each other during Christopher's early years perhaps half an hour at the breakfast table and a few minutes before dinner, although Christopher sought every opportunity to accompany his father on his frequent walks through the woods, where they both shared a passion and joy in nature.
In his late teens, Christopher forged a close friendship with his father. His mother, Daphne, was more interested in fashion and spending her husband's money than spending time with her shy son. After his father's death, Christopher did not see his mother again, although she lived on for another fifteen years.
Christopher like many boys of his generation was sent off to prep school to board. He was cruely teased by the boys there when they learned that he was the real Christopher Robin that they had been read to at an earlier age and now consdidered only suitable for little children. It wasn't until boarding school, at the age of 10, that Christopher began to hate his association with Christopher Robin. Previously, he had been upset that some of the newspaper articles that had been written about him were wrong about certain facts, but for the most part, he enjoyed being associated with the stories. However, away from the family and amongst a new group of boys, he was often teased about being Christopher Robin. Earlier, a gramophone recording of Christopher singing Vespers had been made. Some of the boys at school had managed to get a copy of the recording. He reports being plagued by the other boys continually playing the record. "I vividly recall how intensely painful it was to me to sit in my study at Stowe while my neighbors played the famous, and now cursed, gramophone record remorselessly over and over again. Eventually, the joke, if not the record, worn out, they handed it to me, and I took it and broke it into a hundred fragments and scattered them over a distant field." [Milne, p. 164.] He reports that, although most people regard the poem as picturing a sweet little boy kneeling by his bed, some claim that it is in fact a cynical poem depicting a boy who is not really at all interested. A reader suggests, "If you have access to a copy, try reading it from a cynical point of view. I think it will be a revelation to you."
Christopher shared with his father a passion for pure mathematics and took up a scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge after leaving Stowe school.
The coming of World War II made it impossible for him to enjoy his success and he enlisted in the Royal Engineers. He had a good 4 years, enjoying the comradeship of his fellow officers and a fascination with building Baily Bridges and dismantling landmines. This career ended abruptly with a serious head wound at Salerno in Italy. His wartime travels left him with a lifelong love of that country and he and his wife, Lesley, holidayed there almost every summer for the next fifty years.
U p to the day he died, he used old woodwork tools that he bought as a nine-year-old and his talent as a carpenter proved useful during the years as a struggling bookseller when money was short no holiday luggage was complete without his trusty toolkit. He was ingenious at designing and fashioning furniture and equipment for his daughter, Clare, who is spastic.
After a year or so of unemployment and dead-end jobs in London, he and his wife Lesley opened The Harbour Bookshop in Dartmouth, Devon, a small but successful venture. After his mother's death, he felt able to write freely about his life and his first autobiographical book The Enchanted Places was a critical success and set him on his writing career. This led to The Path Through the Trees: The Story of my non-Pooh life, followed soon afterwards by The Hollow on the Hill a portrayal of his personal philosophy and finally The Windfall, a reinterpretation of the Adam and Eve story (and his own favourite) proved to be his last work.
Cotchford Farm remained Christopher's home for many years, until he began to walk the paths that eventually led to an idyllic 18th century hillside home, a former forge in Embridge, Devon,
where, surrounded by plane trees, oaks, hazels, pansies, daffodils, primroses, bluebells, campions, narcissi and sun-basking cats, he shared many happy years with his wife, Lesley, and their daughter, Clare.
Sadly, continuing ill health forced him away from that peaceful hollow in the hill and he spent his last few years with his Lesley and Clare in an early 19th century house situated on the outskirts of Totnes in Devon, complete with walled garden, lily pond and conservatory.
It is painful to imagine what the world will be like without Christopher Milne, but Christopher Robin of the stories and verses will live on in the homes of countless generations of millions of families the world over for all time. He would prefer to be remembered as Christopher Milne to a few close friends, rather than as Christopher Robin to the rest of the world. "So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on top of the Forest, a little boy and his bear will always be playing."
The Pooh books are favourites with old and young alike and have been translated into almost every known language. In 1993, the Walt Disney Company acknowledged that Pooh Bear is second only to Mickey Mouse in their portfolio of the most-loved and trusted characters known to millions of people all the world over. By 1996, the Bear of Very Little Brain had proved to be more popular than any other Disney character. Ann Thwaite has written a biography of Winnie-the-Pooh, entitled The Brilliant Career of Winnie-the-Pooh, published by Methuen in Europe and by Dutton in America.
Milne, Christopher. The Enchanted Places (1974). It was reprinted in 1995.
Thwaite, Ann. A. A. Milne: His Life (Methuen).
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