One of the most beloved boy literary charcter of all times is Christopher Robin and of course his chum, Winnie the Poo. The book, When We Were Very Young, and three later volumes--featuring the adventures of a
wide-eyed child named Christopher Robin and his guileless teddy bear companion Winnie-the-Pooh--would
sell thousands of copies, be translated into more than 30 languages. Just like Little Lord Fauntleroy, there was a real Christopher Robin. And like Vivian Burnett, the shadow of Christopher Robin would follow A.A. Milne's son for all his life, until his death, at 75, on April 20 in Devon, England. Young Milne was raised in London, and as a child he once admitted that he "quite liked being Christopher
Robin and being famous." The novelty began wearing thin at boarding school, where classmates taunted him, and he
became shy and started to stammer. Virtually all of what we know about the clothes wore by Christopher Robin comes from the delightful drawing of Ernest Shepherd. Christopher's drawings are not mentioned in the story lines. Shepard draws Christopher wearing ginham smocks, short pants, and strap shoes. Often he draws him playin without socks. A few times Cristopher wears "Wellies" (Wellington boots). Actual photographs show that the drawings were essentially based on Chrisopher's actual clothes.
The Chritopher Robin/Winnie the Poo bokks were writen by A.A. Milne. His full name was Alan Alexander Milne.
His parents were Sarah Marie and John Vince Milne. A.A. was their youngest son. He was born in London (1882). He and his brothers (David Barrett Milne and Kenneth John Milne) were raised in his farther's preparatory School, Henley House. One of the teachers who had an influence on him was none other than H.G. Wells.
A.A. went on to Westminster school, one of the best known British public schools. A.A. continued his education at Cambridge, earming a Mathematics scholarship. While at Cambridge, AA. and his brother Ken had their poetry published in The Granta. They decided to form a partnership writing light verse. This only lassted 2 years. Selling poetry is not easy or particularely profitable. A.A. became the Editor of Granta, an appointment he pursued with considerable passion. A.A. was dtermined to become an author. His first books were failures and he blew through his father's inheritance. He worked for Punch. Gradually his books achieved some success. And he managed to survive World War I.
His son Christopher was boen (1920). Christopher Milne writes in his autibiography that "It seemed to me almost that my father had got to where he was by climbing on my infant shoulders." In fact, A.A. Milne was already a successful playwright and humorist in 1924 when, during a rainy holiday in Wales, he wrote a whimsical collection of verses about his then 4-year-old son.
A.A. wrote a shor verse about Christopher and gave it to his wife Dorothy. He told her perhaps wimsically that she could keep any money she made on it. She sent it off to magazines. It was very well received and A.A. was asked to write more such verses. The result was "The Doormouse and the Doctor" which he wrote for The Merry Go Round magazine. Rather surprised by the success of these verses, A.A. decided to write a children's book entitled "When We Were Young". It was published when Christopher was about 4 years old (1924). A.A. called on a friend and illustrator from Punch--Ernest Shepherd. A.A. decided that rather than commission shepherd, he suggested a 80/20 partnership agreement. The resulting colaboration was Winnie The Pooh. The book, When We Were Very Young, and three later volumes--featuring the adventures of a wide-eyed child named Christopher Robin and his guileless teddy bear companion Winnie-the-Pooh--would sell thousands of copies, be translated into more than 30 languages. A.A. got his inspiration from Christopher's play and his toys. The House at Pooh Corner followed. He claimed that this sould be his last book. He subsequently changed his mind. Apparently writing was just to much his life. He wrote Toad of Toad Hall (1929. It was based on Kenneth Grahames' The Wind in the Willows His last book was published years later--Year in, Year out (1952)
Just like Little Lord Fauntleroy, there was a real Christopher Robin. And like Vivian Burnett, the shadow of Christopher Robin would follow A.A. Milne's son for all his life, until his death, at 75, on April 20 in Devon, England. Young Milne was raised in London, and as a child he once admitted that he "quite liked being Christopher Robin and being famous." The novelty began wearing thin at boarding school, where classmates taunted him, and he became shy and started to stammer. Eventually the strains of establishing his own identity soured relations with his father. In 1948, he risked the senior Milne's disapproval and that of his mother, Daphne, to marry his first cousin Lesley de Sélincourt, now 70. The two had one daughter, Clare, 40, who suffers from cerebral palsy. After moving to Dartmouth, in Devon, in 1951, Milne opened a bookstore, wrote a two-volume memoir and seemed to make a posthumous peace with his father, who had died in 1956. He sold his claim to any future royalties from the Pooh books to the Royal Literary Fund for a lump sum in order to provide for his disabled daughter. Distancing himself altogether from his famous alter ego was impossible, however, and even in his later years fans of the books "would throw their arms around him and kiss him, whether he wanted it or not," says Mike Ridley, a
longtime Milne acquaintance who runs a Pooh souvenir shop in Hartfield, England. "The Christopher Robin he tried to get away from is the Christopher Robin that's going to be remembered."
Virtually all of what we know about the clothes wore by Christopher Robin comes from the delightful drawing of Ernest Shepherd. Christopher's clothing is not mentioned in the story lines of the Milne books. SShepherd draws Christopher wearing ginham smocks, short pants, and strap shoes. Often he draws him playin without socks. A few times Cristopher wears "Wellies" (Wellington boots). Actual photographs show that the drawings were essentially based on Chrisopher's actual clothes.
Christopher was not often picture with a hat, but in some Shepard drawings he wears a beat up wide brimmed hat.
CVhristopher is often pictured in smocks. The smocks are often blue or red gingham smocks. I assume this is the case because Christopher Milne did indeed wear gingham smocks. I'm not sure if Shepard's son Grahm wore smocks.
Christopher on rainy days is often shown wearing wellies--with either short pants or smocks.
One of the most delightful childhood memories of Victorian England is Ernest Shepherd's lovely book, Drawn From Memory. Shepard is the artist who illustrated A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh. Shepard grew up in London during the 1880s. He recalls remarkably detailed images of horse-drawn London where a penny was wealth for a child. A warm, delightful view of Victorian England emerges from the book, recollections of the Jubilee, seaside bathing at
Eastbourne, hop-picking in Kent, the Drury Lane Pantomine, aunts and
illnesses, hansom cabs, hobby horses, park outings, and pea-soup fogs.
Shepard details the experiences of he and his brother and describes them through their childhood eyes.
Christopher Robin as depictd by Shepard in the beloved A.A. Milne books almost always wire strap shoes called Mary Janes in the United States. Walt Disney purchased the rights to the character in 1964 intending to keep Christopher a Brit. Disney 1960s Pooh features gave Christopher a British accent, and always kept him in his single bar strap shoes and white socks unless it was snowing, in which case I think he wore skates. Disney in the 1980s under direction of ABC TV iattempted to "Americanize" him for a Saturday morning cartoon series. The major change was to replace his strap shoes with American red sneakers. An interesting questin is wether such actions actually improve ratings among children. I am not sure if that question has ever been addressed. Television producers clearly beleve it be the case. We have, however not seen actual emperical evidence,
There is good news for literary purists. After caving in to pressure from ABC in the 1980s resulting in American red sneakers for Christopher Robin, Disney studios released a new set of Winnie the Pooh kids' books with Christopher back in his traditional strap shoes. We are not sure when this was done, pergaps the early 90s. These books, designed to be sold in grocery stores in sets of 18 volumes, are titled "Lessons from the Hundred Acre Wood". The biggest lesson will be to the general public that srap shoes are just as appropriate for boys as they are for girls! A new special Disney Halloween edition Pooh paperback has Christopher Robin in a devil cape costume along with red Mary Janes (199?). This was another sign that the Disney animators have returned to the original and given Christopher Robin his traditional alternative to those ABC-enforced sneakers. A new Disney video about Tigger was released (199?). Reports say Christopher Robin does NOT appear in it. What a shame! The last video (Search for....) had Christopher in the red sneakers (199?).
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