Know Your History – 11th October – Peter Pan novel first published

know your history - writingOn this day… 11 October, 1911 – Peter Pan published

The novel by J.M Barrie was first published in 1911 by Hodder & Stoughton in the United Kingdom and Charles Scribner’s Sons in the United States. The original book contains a frontispiece and 11 half-tone plates by artist F. D. Bedford (whose illustrations are still under copyright in the EU). The novel was first abridged by May Byron in 1915, with Barrie’s permission, and published under the title Peter Pan and Wendy, the first time this form was used. This version was later illustrated by Mabel Lucie Attwell in 1921. In 1929, Barrie gave the copyright of the Peter Pan works to Great Ormond Street Hospital, a children’s hospital in London.

On Writing Peter Pan

When writer JM Barrie was growing up in the Scottish town of Kirriemuir there was a family tragedy. His 13-year-old brother cracked his skull in an ice-skating accident and died. Their mother was devastated. She had lost her darling, her favourite.Peter Pan

Jealously, young James did everything he could to become his brother, even dressing up in his clothes. He would never grow more than 5ft tall. Somewhere deep down he became convinced that leaving childhood was life’s greatest catastrophe. So he invented a story about a boy who stayed a boy for ever. He called him Peter Pan.

Did You Know?..

Peter returned to Wendy when she had grown up.

Four years after the premiere of the original production of Peter Pan, Barrie wrote an additional scene entitled When Wendy Grew Up. An Afterthought, later included in the final chapter of Peter and Wendy. In this scene, Peter returns for Wendy years later. But she is now grown up with a daughter of her own named Jane. It is also revealed Wendy married one of the Lost Boys, although this is not mentioned in the novel, and it is never revealed which one she did marry. When Peter learns that Wendy has “betrayed” him by growing up, he is heartbroken until Jane agrees to come to Neverland as Peter’s new mother. In the novel’s last few sentences, Barrie mentions that Jane has grown up as well and that Peter now takes her daughter Margaret to Neverland. Barrie says this cycle will go on forever as long as children are “innocent and heartless”.