Sotheby's to sell the most important Pooh books ever

November 15, 2002

Fact meets fiction in Sotheby's forthcoming sale of Children's and Illustrated Books when Christopher Robin's own original copies of the Winnie the Pooh books are offered for sale in London on Thursday, December 12, 2002. Given to him by his author father, A.A. Milne, Christopher Robin comes face to face with his fictional character in three of the most desirable and emotive copies of the children's classic ever likely to be offered at auction.

An inscribed first edition of When We Were Very Young from A.A. Milne to his son, Christopher Robin, is estimated at £40,000-60,000. It is the first of the Winnie the Pooh books - introducing two of the most well known literary childhood figures, Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh - and is therefore the most important of the three.

Dedicated "To Christopher Robin Milne or, as he prefers to call himself Billy Moon This book which owes so much to him is now humbly offered." Milne explains in It's too Late Now, that on the birth of his child: "We had intended to call it Rosemary, but decided that Billy would be more suitable. However, as you can't be christened William - least, we didn't see why anybody should - we had to think of two other names, two initials being necessary to ensure him any sort of copyright in a cognomen as often plagiarised as Milne. One of us thought of Robin, the other of Christopher; names wasted on him who called himself Billy Moon as soon as he could talk, and has been Moon to his family and friends ever since."

Consequently, the presentation copy of When We Were Very Young - dedicated in the month of publication - was inscribed by his father: "Billy's own book from his loving Blue. Nov: 1924." Writing in his autobiography, The Enchanted Places, Christopher Robin notes: "…BILLY Survived to get itself into my copy of When We Were Very Young, which my father inscribed 'Billy's Own Book', but died between there and Winnie the Pooh." In reference to Moon, he writes: "This was my early attempt at saying Milne."

Winnie the Pooh was published on October 14, 1926, with a print run seven times the size of When They Were Very Young. Christopher Robin's copy of Winnie the Pooh reads: "For Moonest Moon and Poohest Pooh from their adoring Bluest Blue Oct. 16th .1926," and is estimated to fetch £25,000-35,000. Blue according to Milne's biographer, Ann Thwaite, was Christopher Robin's nickname for his father, possibly owing to the colour of Milne's eyes and his penchant for blue clothes.

The third of the Winnie the Pooh books, Now We Are Six, published in 1927, reads: "For my Moon from his Blue Now I am 45. Oct 11th, 1927." It is estimated at £12,000-16,000. A presentation copy of Once On a Time specially bound in green Morocco gilt for Christopher Robin by Sangorski and Sutcliff, was presumably commissioned by the author as a Christmas present for his son four years after publication of the book. Inscribed "Moon from Blue," the book is expected to fetch £10,000-15,000.

The books, which have remained in the Milne family ever since they were first presented to Christopher Robin, will be offered for sale by Sotheby's on behalf of a member of the family.

For more information check the site of Sotheby's.