Peter Pan



  • A play for children by J. M. Barrie, first producedin London in 1904 with Nina Boucicault as Peter. The title character is a little boy who never grows up, the leader of the Lost Boys of Never Never Land.

    One night Peter flies in through the nursery window of theDarling family's house to recover his shadow and then flies home toNever Never Land with the darling children. They are all capturedby pirates, except Peter, who manages to secure their release anddefeat the villainous Captain Hook. The children return home withtheir new friend but Peter refuses to stay because he does not wantto grow up.

    The character of Peter was inspired by the five sons of Barrie'sfriends Arthur and Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (who appear as Mr and MrsDarling). Barrie took the Llewelyn Davies boys into his house afterthe deaths of their parents and explained in the play's dedication"I made Peter Pan by rubbing the five of you violently together,as savages with two sticks produce a flame."

    In their later lives, the boys seemed doomed to be hauntedby tragedy. In 1915 George died fighting in World War I, while in1921 Michael drowned in mysterious circumstances in Oxford, possiblyin a homosexual suicide pact. Of all the boys, Peter was the one mostclosely linked with his fictional namesake. (He himself was named afterthe title character of Peter Ibbetson, a novel by his grandfather,George Du Maurier). At Eton, his identification with Peter Pan causedhim considerable suffering. His life ended tragically in 1960, when - by then a well-known publisher - he threw himself undera train in the London Underground. Michael Llewelyn Davies was themodel for Sir George Frampton's statue of Peter Pan in KensingtonGardens, which was placed there by Barrie in 1912. Peter Pan may alsohave reflected some of Barrie's own problems - notably his impotenceand his inability to come to terms with the death of his own brotherat the age of 12.

    The play is still regularly revived, particularly at Christmas.Barrie arranged for all copyright fees from the play to go to theGreat Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, London.