Why A.A. Milne and his son Christopher Robin ended up hating Winnie the Pooh, and stopped speaking with each other

If you've ever suspected that the seemingly innocent Winnie the Pooh had a hidden sinister side, here's your proof.

The lovable, roly-poly, honey-aficionado became a cherished figure in children's literature almost overnight with the publication of author A.A. Milne's When We Were Very Young in 1924. This was followed by Winnie-the-Pooh in October 1926, Now We Are Six in 1927, and the final book, The House at Pooh Corner, was published in October 1928. These four short works quickly became beloved classics of children's literature.

A.A. Milne drew inspiration from his own son, Christopher Robin Milne, and the stuffed toys he owned, when creating the world of Winnie the Pooh. The stories were inspired by the playtime Milne and his son shared in the woods near their home. Christopher Robin's toys, including a bear (Winnie the Pooh), a pig (Piglet), a donkey (Eeyore), and a tiger (Tigger), became central characters in the stories.

But as the years went on, the relationship between Milne and Christopher became strained due to the immense popularity of the Winnie the Pooh books. The fictional Christopher Robin became an iconic character globally, leading to unwanted attention and fame for the real Christopher Robin. This public attention interfered with his personal life and caused discomfort and embarrassment, particularly during his school years when he was bullied and teased by his peers.

As Christopher Robin grew older, he began to resent the intrusion of the Winnie the Pooh stories into his life and the expectations and assumptions people made about him based on the fictional character. This resentment extended to his relationship with his father. Christopher Robin felt overshadowed by his fictional counterpart and resented his father for exploiting his childhood for commercial and artistic gain.

Winnie not only damaged the relationship between him and his son, but the cursed ursine also ruined his future as an author of books for grown-ups. The character's enormous success overshadowed all of his other literary works. Before creating Winnie the Pooh, Milne had established himself as a successful playwright, novelist, and essayist. He wrote for prestigious publications, contributed to satire, and was involved in the literary scene in London. He aspired to be recognized for his varied contributions to literature and thought highly of his work outside children's stories.

However, after the publication of the Winnie the Pooh books, Milne found that his previous works were largely forgotten by the public, and he became primarily known as the author of children's books. This typecasting frustrated him, as he felt that his more serious and adult-oriented literary achievements were being neglected. Milne expressed his feelings in various writings, lamenting that no matter what else he wrote, he seemed destined to be remembered only as the creator of Winnie the Pooh.

The author and his estranged son weren't the only ones haunted by the bad news bear. Illustrator Ernest H. Shepard, renowned for bringing the characters of the Hundred Acre Wood to life with his charming and evocative illustrations, also came to loathe Winnie the Pooh.

Initially, Shepard was reluctant to take on the project, as children's book illustration was not his primary focus; he was better known for his work as a political cartoonist and illustrator for the magazine Punch. He should have listened to his inner voice. The overwhelming success of his illustrations in the Pooh books overshadowed his other artistic achievements and limited his recognition as an illustrator capable of a broader range of work. Later in life, he referred to Winnie the Pooh as "that silly old bear" and expressed regret that he had ever taken part.

It's time to take a closer look at the cause of all this misery — Pooh himself. Naively viewed as a symbol of innocence and whimsy, Pooh is the poster cub for sociopathic greed. His gluttony and relentless obsession with honey cause distress and turmoil within the Hundred Acre Wood community. Pooh's insatiable appetite leads him to consume honey without restraint or regard for the well-being of his companions, often depleting the resources meant to be shared among his friends. This not only strains the food supply but also places his friends in challenging positions as they strive to cater to his never-ending demands. Is it any surprise that this monomaniacal little creep's bad energy would spill off the page into the real world?