Perhaps the most revered and popular children's book of all time, Peter Pan tells the story of the mythical Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up, a mischievous forever-young scamp who lives on the Island of Neverland with his Lost Boys and a fairy named Tinker Bell. One night, Peter flies into the nursery of Wendy, John and Michael Darling and tempts the three of them to fly off on an adventure. The result is a legendary and unforgettable story from the pen of J.M. Barrie, one that has been adapted for the stage, screen and television countless times.
Featuring Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, Wendy and, of course, the villainous Captain Hook and his trusty mate Smee, these indelible characters have become some of the most iconic characters in all of children's literature. Barrie's playful and impish prose perfectly captures the cruelty, kindness and complexities of youth, as seen through the eyes of history's most famous flying orphan.
Sir James Matthew Barrie (1860-1937) was a Scottish playwright and novelist best known for his play - and later his novel - about the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up: Peter Pan.
Born the ninth child of ten in the town of Kirriemuir, Scotland to David and Margaret Barrie, James was a storyteller from an early age. When his brother David died in an ice-skating accident, James would often imitate him around the house to cheer up his mother. Margaret drew comfort from the fact that, in her mind, David would forever remain the boy she loved and would never grow up and leave her.
Originally steered towards the ministry, James felt a strong pull to become a writer and attended the University of Edinburgh, writing drama reviews for the school paper. Upon graduation, Barrie began to submit short stories to the St. James Gazette, a London newspaper and would eventually write three Scottish themed novels that enjoyed moderate success.
Barrie also felt drawn to the theatre and wrote a series of plays that were performed at Toole's Theatre in London even while his career as a novelist took off.
In 1902, he published The Little White Bird, which first featured the character of Peter Pan. Soon afterwards, Barrie created the play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up which was an immediate success. After writing more books and plays, he returned to the character of Peter for the novel Peter and Wendy and forever enshrined himself in literary history.
In 1929, Barrie gave the rights to Peter Pan (as the novel would eventually become known) to the Great Ormond Street Hospital, which continues to benefit from the bequest to this day.
J.M. Barrie died of pneumonia on June 19, 1937 and is buried in Kirriemiur next to his parents and two of his siblings.