J. M. Barrie was a Scottish dramatist and writer. When he was a young man he wanted to be a writer, however his family was against it and wanted him to pursue something more serious, such as the ministry. They reached an agreement and he entered the University of Edinburgh to study literature. After moving to London he began writing novels and plays.
In 1897 he met the Llewelyn Davies family. The boys, 5 of them, were inspirations for the characters in Peter Pan. He would go for walks in Kensington Gardens and while there he would amuse the boys with stories. The youngest was named Peter, who at the time was a baby. Barrie would tell his older brothers, George and Jack that Peter could fly and that before a baby was born it was a bird. He continued by saying that the windows in nurseries had bars on them so the babies wouldn’t fly away. His most beloved story is about a baby who actually did fly out the window. When the parents of the boys died, Barrie became their guardian.
Peter Pan first appeared in The Little White Bird. It was published in the United States and then in Britain in 1902. Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, first appeared on stage in 1904. In 1911, Barrie developed the play into a novel, Peter and Wendy. In 1929, Barrie gave the children’s hospital, Great Ormond Street Hospital in London the rights of all the Peter Pan works. The hospital still benefits. Even though Barrie continued to write after his success with Peter Pan, this work eclipsed all of his other works.
The story is a wonderful tale about a little boy named Peter who refuses to grow up. He flies off to Neverland and has adventures with his band of Lost Boys. There are pirates and the Indian princess Tiger Lily. One night while sitting outside the Darling’s house to listen to the mother tell a bedtime story, Peter is spied and during his escape he loses his shadow. When he goes back for it, Wendy, the daughter hears him and is able to reattach Peter’s shadow. Peter finds out that Wendy remembers many bedtime stories and asks her to go to Neverland to be a mother to the Lost Boys. The Darling siblings, Wendy, John, and Michael join Peter Pan and the Lost Boys in Neverland.
While reading this work for the first time I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I was never a big fan of the movies. In fact, I don’t know if I was able to watch any of the movies all the way through. However, I enjoyed Barrie’s tale. It wasn’t the most exciting book I’ve read, but I really enjoyed his words. Here are some of my favorite quotes:
“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.”
“You know that place between sleeping and awake, that place where you can still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always think of you.”
“To live will be an awfully big adventure.”
“To die would be an awfully big adventure.”
“If you shut your eyes and are a lucky one, you may see at times a shapeless pool of lovely pale colours suspended in the darkness; then if you squeeze your eyes tighter, the pool begins to take shape, and the colours become so vivid that with another squeeze they must go on fire.”
“Pan, who and what art thou?” he cried huskily.
“I’m youth, I’m joy,” Peter answered at a venture, “I’m a little bird that has broken out of the egg.”
“Oh, the cleverness of me!”
“On these magic shores children at play are for ever beaching their coracles. We too have been there; we can still hear the sound of the surf, though we shall land no more.”
I read this novel for the Once Upon a Time challenge hosted by Carl. I picked up a copy almost six months ago and I’ve been saving it for this challenge. And I have to say, it was worth the wait. This is not a children’s story in my opinion. Kids will like the novel, however, I feel that this is intended for adults. It reminds me a lot of Looney Tunes. Yes I loved the cartoons as a child. However, it wasn’t until I was an adult did I really get the humor. His satire and phrases made me giggle on many occasions.
In Kensington Gardens there is a statue to commemorate Barrie’s inspiration for Peter Pan. The sculptor, Sir George Frampton didn’t use photos of the Llewelyn boys instead he worked with a child model. Barrie didn’t like the end result since he said it “doesn’t show the devil in Peter.” I know Barrie was disappointed in it, but I got a kick out of seeing it.