So you think you know Winnie-the-Pooh, and Tigger too? Find out ten facts you probably don't know about the real Christopher Robin, his father A. A. Milne and Pooh. Watch the first trailer of new Disney feature film Christopher Robin— which stars Ewan McGregor, Peter Capaldi and Hayley Atwell— below.
1.A. A Milne and his illustrator, E. H Shepard were destined to work together
The two men lived a few streets away from each other when growing up in Kilburn, both fought at the Somme, and had numerous friends in common, but they only met many years later when they both working for the magazine Punch.
2.Milne was a contemporary of a number of other classic children’s authors, including J.M. Barrie, Enid Blyton and Kenneth Grahame
3. An all-rounder: Christopher Robin was given his name because of his father's love of cricket
After the birth of their son, A. A. and Daphne Milne struggled to choose a name. In the end, Christopher Robin was chosen for a very specific reason, as A. A. Milne recounts:
I had decided on two initials rather than one or none because I wanted him to play cricket for England, like W.G. Grace and C.B Fry ... A father has to think of these things.
4. ‘Alice’ from the poem ‘Buckingham Palace’ was Christopher Robin’s nurse:
They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace, Christopher Robin went down with Alice...
‘Alice’ was Christopher Robin’s nurse, Olive Rand, affectionately called Nou, but Milne used the name Alice as it rhymed with Palace! Nou is played by Kelly Macdonald in Goodbye Christopher Robin.
5. Christopher Robin rarely went by his real name
He was known in his family as Billy Moon, as ‘Moon’ was how he would pronounce 'Milne' as a boy!
6. Christopher Robin's real toy bear was not the inspiration for Shepard's drawings
Even though Christopher Robin's real toy bear, an Alpha Farnell bear from Harrods, was named Pooh, he was not the basis of the illustrations.
E. H Shepard’s son, Graham, had a Growler that he called "a magnificent bear". Shepard claimed that this Growler was the true visual inspiration for the iconic drawing. Oh bother!
7. The name ‘Pooh’ (possibly) came from a Swan
In September 1921, on a family visit to a thatched cottage called the Decoy in Sussex, Christopher Robin could be found feeding a swan that he called Pooh. Milne wrote of this encounter:
This is a very fine name for a swan, because if you call him and he doesn’t come (which is a thing swans are good at), then you can pretend you were just saying “Pooh!” to show how little you wanted him...we took the name with us when we left, we didn’t think the swan would want it anymore
Although there are many different stories about where the name came from, we certainly like this one the best!
8. The animals from Winnie-The-Pooh are based on Christopher Robin’s childhood toys
Eeyore the donkey had a drooping neck which made him look particularly gloomy, while Piglet looked according to Milne like he should have high, squeaky voice. Alongside them, Kanga, Roo and Tigger were also inspired by Christopher Robin’s real toys. These childhood friends have since been donated to the New York Public Library (although Winnie-the-Pooh will have his own exhibition at the V&A in London in December 2017!)
9. The name Winnie came from a real-life female black bear
Named after Winnipeg, Winnie the bear was was one of the most popular animals at London Zoo in the 1920’s.
10. Christopher Robin Milne went on to become an author too
Like his father, Christopher Robin wrote a number of books, including The Enchanted Places, about the real setting of the Hundred Acre Wood, Cotchford Farm by Ashdown Forest. You can still visit some of the locations that inspired the stories including Poohsticks Bridge.
T-T-F-N: Ta ta for now!
To find out even more about the story and history of the 'Silly Old Bear', visit the new V&A exhibition Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic, which runs until 8th April 2018.