A Glimpse Back in Time (#4)

Friday, August 19, 2016

A Glimpse Back in Time is a feature where I talk about the interesting history behind the books that I read! If you want to see previous posts for this feature, look here!

Today I'm going to be talking about THE REAL PETER PAN by Piers Dudgeon! I was given a copy of this book by the publisher. I found myself rather bored while reading the book so I never finished it and therefore cannot write a review.

If you're into more biography type stuff or are SUPER into the Peter Pan story, definitely get yourself a copy of this book! I think it sounds super interesting, I just personally can't get into it.

Everyone has heard of Peter Pan. If you haven't, you might possibly be living under a rock. The story has been retold and adapted many, many times. Whether it's in movie form (Disney's animated adaptation, Finding Neverland, Hook) or book form (Unhooked, Stars, Everland, Tiger Lily, Never Never, Never Ever, etc.), the story never gets old!

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Publication Date: July 12th, 2016
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover

Summary (from Goodreads):

The world has long been captivated by the story of Peter Pan and the countless movies, plays, musicals, and books that retell the story of Peter, Wendy, and the Lost Boys. Now, in this revealing behind-the-scenes book, author Piers Dudgeon examines the fascinating and complex relationships among Peter Pan's creator, J.M. Barrie, and the family of boys who inspired his work.

After meeting the Llewelyn Davies family in London's Kensington Garden, Barrie struck up an intense friendship with the children and their parents. The innocence of Michael, the fourth of five brothers, went on to influence the creation of Barrie's most famous character, Peter Pan. Barrie was so close to the Llewelyn Davies family that he became trustee and guardian to the boys following the deaths of their parents. Although the relationship between the boys and Barrie (and particularly between Barrie and Michael) was enduring, it was punctuated by the fiercest of tragedies. Throughout the heart-rending saga of Barrie's involvement with the Llewelyn Davies brothers, it is the figure of Michael, the most original and inspirational of their number, and yet also the one whose fate is most pitiable, that stands out.

The Real Peter Pan is a captivating true story of childhood, friendship, war, love, and regret.

So, for my post today, I'm going to talk a little bit about J.M. Barrie and the history behind the story of Peter Pan!

J.M. Barrie was born in Scotland in 1860, he was one of ten children, not all of whom survived childhood. In particular, he had an older brother named David who, at the age of 14, was killed in an ice skating accident. David is thought to be Barrie's first Lost Boy. This is potentially where Barrie's obsession with the innocence of young boys began.

In 1898, Barrie met the two oldest Llewelyn Davies brothers, George and Jack, in Kensington Gardens. Shortly after, he met the parents, Sylvia and Arthur. He befriended the family and was a big part of their lives. Later, after meeting, three more Davies children were born, Peter, Michael, and Nico. These children, particularly Michael, were the inspiration for Peter Pan. The preface to the 1928 published play said, "I suppose I always knew that I made Peter by rubbing the five of you violently together….That is all he is, the spark I got from you.”

The very first appearance of the character Peter Pan was in J.M. Barrie's adult novel, The Little White Bird. He was part of a story told to a young boy in the novel about a child who wandered Kensington Gardens at night. With the popularity of the novel and attachment to his character, Barrie wrote an entire play about Pan called Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up. The play was also later adapted by Barrie into the longer novel, Peter Pan and Wendy.

Tragedy followed Barrie after befriending the Davies family. Arthur died of cancer with Sylvia following shortly after, also from cancer. Barrie took over guardianship of the children after the death of their parents. George died in battle during WWI and several years later, Michael drowned in the embrace of another man who was thought to be his lover. Peter became an alcoholic, probably because he was unable to escape his connection to Peter Pan and in 1960, he threw himself beneath a train.

Before his death in 1937, Barrie gave the rights to Peter Pan to a children's hospital, the Great Ormond Street Hospital, and to this day it still benefits a lot from owning the rights.

Despite allegations that he might have had more inappropriate feelings for the boys and some things he wrote that come off as kind of pedophile-y, Barrie was thought to be asexual and did the best that he could to take care of these boys that became his family.


What do you think about the inspiration for this story? Did you know this? This book, I think, touches more on the tragedies that befell the Davies family and such, so if you are more interested in that topic, definitely read this book!

I might try to more slowly read through this book in the future because it does sound so fascinating, but since I was given a copy of this book, I wanted to feature it on the blog sooner than I think I could finish the book.

Let me know in the comments what you think of the inspiration behind this story!

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