As a child, I absolutely adored Winnie the Pooh. I read the books and watched the cartoons about the sweet, loveable teddy bear and his cute and funny friends.
Before it was a regular cartoon, Pooh specials aired periodically. As a child, I would so look forward to them and sat mesmerized in front of the TV when they came on.
Our four children also loved Winnie the Pooh and would watch the videotapes and DVDs over and over again.
We used to joke that our chocolate lab Hershey (I know, such an original name) at the time was similar to Eeyore. She had such a sweet, almost sad, temperament and just always seemed to “sigh” whenever little people attempted to ride her like a pony, or get her to pull them in a cart.
Everybody loved to borrow Tigger’s famous expression, TTFN. That’s “Ta Ta For Now,” for those of you who may have forgotten.
After doing a little research, I learned that A.A. Milne was Alan Alexander Milne, born on Jan. 18, 1882, in England and he died on Jan. 31, 1956.
Though he was an accomplished playwright before he wrote the Winnie the Pooh books, their popularity forever overshadowed his earlier works.
Interestingly, Milne majored in math in college and one of his professors was H.G. Wells, another favorite author of mine.
Milne married Dorothy “Daphne” de Selincourt in 1913 and their only child was born in 1920. Did you know their son’s name was Christopher Robin? I loved learning that he was his father’s inspiration for the character.
Originally, the teddy bear was named “Edward,” but Milne renamed him Winnie after learning about a Canadian Black Bear named “Winnipeg,” which had been donated to a London zoo. The Pooh part of the name came from a swan called a “pooh.”
The adorable characters in the stories were inspired by Christopher Robin’s stuffed animals, and the beautiful Hundred Acre Woods came from the Five Hundred Acre Wood forest, where Milne and his son often walked.
While most of us would probably assume the real Christopher Robin would grow up loving Pooh and his friends and be flattered by being the inspiration for the stories, this was not the case.
Apparently, children at school teased young Christopher Robin, and he resented the books and felt his childhood had even been exploited.
As an adult, he served in World War II, and eventually married his first cousin (I guess that is not outlawed in England), and the couple bought a bookstore.
The accounts I read said he was successful, and never used royalty monies from the success of the Pooh books. Before his death in 1996, Christopher Robin donated the stuffed animals from his childhood to a library in New York. All of that makes me a little sad.
I was sharing my newfound knowledge about all of this with our youngest son, who is 16, and probably could have cared less.
He listened and then said, “I heard that Christopher Robin was a schizophrenic.”
“That is ridiculous!” I exclaimed.
“Look it up,” he said.
So I immediately looked online and found that there was a study done in 2000 by the Canadian Medical Association Journal, which actually diagnosed all of the characters.
The analysis showed the following: Winnie the Pooh had ADHD and OCD; Eeyore suffered from clinical depression; Tigger had severe hyperactivity and impulsivity and other risk-taking behaviors; Piglet had generalized anxiety disorder; and Christopher Robin suffered from classic schizophrenia.
Owl was said to be bright, but dyslexic. Rabbit wasn’t really diagnosed, but said to have “an overriding need to organize others … often against their will.”
Then there was poor Roo. The “experts” said because of the environment Roo was being raised in, he was certain to become a delinquent.
I’m sure this was all meant as a joke … but really?
The next thing you know there will be a study questioning Snow White’s reputation since she lived with seven men.
It’s so fascinating to me to learn about the back story behind popular books and their authors.
I feel sorry that Christopher Robin never learned to appreciate what his dad had tapped into — the generations of joy his stories would provide for countless children and even their parents.
Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.