Sunday, February 05, 2012

The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up

“All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, ‘Oh, why can’t you remain like this for ever!’ This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end.” - J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

As I was doing more research for our European trip, I came across some information about James M Barrie, the author of the Peter Pan books among other things. I was amazed by his story!

James M Barrie was born in 1860 and was the 9th of 10 children. When James was 6 years old, his older brother, David, died at the age of 13. David was his mother's favorite child, and as James grew up he found it difficult to compete with his brother, David, who was eternally age 13....a boy who never grew up.

After earning a college degree, Barrie moved to London to pursue a writing career. He had a Saint Bernard and would go walking in Kensington Gardens. One day, he met three young brothers. He spent more and more time with them and eventually became like a member of the family. He would make up stories to tell the boys, including two younger brothers later on. The stories centered around a charcter, Peter Pan, who never grew up. (One of the boys was named Peter.) In the stories, Barrie's St Bernard became the 'nanny', Nana. Barrie ended up adopting the five brothers when their parents both died within a few years of each other.
Barrie's first story about Peter Pan was published in 1902. In 1912, Barrie commisioned a statue of Peter Pan to be placed in Kensington Gardens, where he had first told stories about Peter. He died in 1937.


Malea said...

I knew some of the details about J.M. Barrie's life, but you've added some new ones. Fascinating. I love the story behind the story, if you know what I mean. Have you read the original text of "Peter Pan"? So good, but quite different in many ways from the Disney film many of us grew up with.

Dana said...

How interesting! I will have to share this with my kids.

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