Who Was the Real Christopher Robin?

Christopher Robin

Christopher Robin Milne | Sasha/Getty Images

In Disney’s new film Christopher Robin, the young boy who grew up playing with his animal friends in the Hundred Acre Wood has grown up, and years after saying goodbye to Pooh, he has lost his childhood spark. Although the storyline is an original one, as fans know, Christoper Robin isn’t entirely fictional.

In real life, author A. A. Milne based the character on his own son, Christopher Robin Milne, who was born in 1920. Like the fictional version, Christopher was an only child, was raised in London, and went to boarding school.

On his first birthday, Christopher received a teddy bear as a gift, and he named it Edward. This, along with the real-life black bear Winnipeg that was in the London Zoo at the time, served as the inspiration for Pooh, and Christopher’s other toys brought the other characters to life as well.

In Christoper Robin, Christopher and his family have plans to travel to their family cottage in Sussex for the weekend. This is something ripped from real-life, as A. A. Milne truly did have a cottage in Sussex, and his family would spend weekends and holidays there.

Christopher liked being a part of his father’s stories until he was about eight or nine, according to The Telegraph; he even wrote to fans and made public appearances. But his attitude changed drastically went he went off to boarding school and was relentlessly bullied.

“For it was [then] that began that love-hate relationship with my fictional namesake that has continued to this day,” he once wrote. “At home I still liked [Christopher Robin], indeed felt at times quite proud that I shared his name and was able to bask in some of his glory. At school, however, I began to dislike him and I found myself disliking him more and more the older I got.”

The same way Christopher is a bit distant with his daughter in the movie and isn’t really sure how to take care of her, that’s how Christopher has described his own father, who was usually too busy for him.

“Some people are good with children. Others are not,” he told The Telegraph. “It is a gift. You either have it or you don’t. My father didn’t.”

However, Christopher and his father did become closer during Christopher’s adolescence.

Christopher Robin Milne

Christopher Robin Milne and Lesley de Sélincourt | J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images

Like in the movie, Christopher also really did serve in World War II. After coming home, he struggled to find work and began to resent his father again, feeling like he “had filched from me my good name and had left me with nothing but the empty fame of being his son.” They never fully repaired their relationship, and Christopher did not see much of his father during the last years of his life.

Christopher ended opening up a bookstore in Dartmouth and marrying his cousin, Lesley de Sélincourt. As in the movie, Christopher had one daughter, although in real life, her name was Clare, and she suffered from cerebral palsy. In 2002, she set up a trust using the funds from A. A. Milne’s books to aid charities focused on helping those with the disorder. She died in 2012 due to a heart abnormality.

In a 1998 article for The Telegraph, English writer Gyles Brandreth, a friend of Christopher’s, described him as being “charming, courteous, kindly, gentle but forthcoming, amusing, amused.” Brandreth also said that by the age of 60, Christopher had come around on the Pooh stories, saying, “I’m quite fond of them really.”

If Christopher Robin piqued your interest in seeing a movie about the real-life man and not the fictional character, you can check out the 2017 film Goodbye Christopher Robin, which is based upon the story of A. A. Milne and his son.