Read­ers’ Let­ters

The Oldie - - CONTENTS -

SIR: The ar­ti­cle by Roger Lewis about Christo­pher Robin (Septem­ber is­sue) in­cludes many oft-re­peated facts about el­e­ments of un­hap­pi­ness within the Milne fam­ily. I was for­tu­nate enough to know Christo­pher – a charm­ing and im­mensely mod­est man – well for some 25 years be­fore his death in 1996; and his wife and daugh­ter for a good many years af­ter that. As his rep­re­sen­ta­tive, I also served for some 40 years on the Pooh Prop­er­ties Trust, which ad­min­is­tered the ex­ploita­tion of the rights in A A Milne’s chil­dren’s books.

Alan Milne was clearly im­mensely fond and proud of his son, but I am not sure he was ‘be­sot­ted’ nor that he and his wife spoiled their child any more than other suc­cess­ful par­ents of his era spoiled their chil­dren.

Christo­pher also be­came a fine writer, par­tic­u­larly when writ­ing about his daugh­ter or about his love of na­ture, and his books should be read. He and his wife, Les­ley, each worked part of ev­ery day in their book­shop while the other stayed at home and cared for Clare who was se­verely hand­i­capped.

Most of their lives they had lived very mod­estly in­deed but, af­ter his mother’s death in 1971, Christo­pher be­gan to re­ceive, un­der his fa­ther’s will, a share of the Pooh roy­al­ties and he gave one half of this share to Clare and sold the other half at a deep dis­count to a char­ity that was a ben­e­fi­ciary un­der his fa­ther’s will.

From the early eight­ies, the roy­al­ties grew rapidly and, in about 2000, they en­joyed a wind­fall. Clare’s share was, at the re­quest of Les­ley, di­vided, first to­wards es­tab­lish­ing her in her own home af­ter years in an in­sti­tu­tion and then set­ting up a new char­ity in her name (with Les­ley as pres­i­dent un­til I suc­ceeded her af­ter her death) to help dis­abled per­sons in Devon and Corn­wall. When Clare died in 2012, part of her share went to the same char­ity, the Clare Milne Trust, which has given nearly £7 mil­lion to help dis­abled peo­ple.

I humbly sug­gest that this great legacy should be trum­peted and any hu­man frail­ties of past gen­er­a­tions should now be put away and for­got­ten. Michael Brown, Princes Ris­bor­ough, Buck­ing­hamshire

‘I’ve just seen a meme of a bloke that looks just like you’

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