SIR JAMES MATTHEW BARRIE was a Scottish author and dramatist, best known for creating Peter Pan. The character first appeared in the book Little White Bird in 1902. Two years later, Barrie wrote the play Peter Pan, which premiered in London to critical acclaim. On the back of the play’s popularity, Barrie released a children’s book, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (adapted from Little White Bird), then a full novel based on the play, entitled Peter and Wendy (1911).
The adventures of Peter Pan were inspired by Barrie’s friendship with the children of Arthur and Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, whom he met while walking in Kensington Gardens. Barrie would entertain them by wiggling his ears and eyebrows and thrilling them with wildly imaginative stories that would later form the basis for Peter Pan’s adventures in Neverland.
did you know?
Peter Pan might never have been created if JM Barrie had not owned a dog. It was while walking his St Bernard puppy, Porthos, in London’s Kensington Gardens that he met the Llewelyn Davies brothers who provided the inspiration for his stories.
It’s often claimed that JM Barrie invented the name Wendy. He didn’t. Though not common, it was in use before the publication of his Peter Pan writings… but there’s no doubt he made it more popular.
JM Barrie was only 4ft 10in tall (1.47m). Quite fitting don’t you think? The man who couldn’t grow up gave us the boy who wouldn’t grow up.
In 1901 JM Barrie created a photo-book of his holiday adventures with the Llewelyn Davies brothers, The Boy Castaways of Black Lake Island. He printed only two copies, one of which he gave to the boys’ father who lost it on a train. To this day it has never been found.
In JM Barrie’s writings Captain Hook had his right hand cut off – but actors tend to wear a hook on their left side so they can handle a sword with their (usually) favoured right hand. Because Hook’s actions had to be modelled by a voiceover actor, even Disney’s animated version depicts the character with a left-handed hook.