Peter Pan takes off in many different forms
Most people recognize the name Peter Pan. Hearing that name brings to mind thoughts of fairies and pirates and wonderful adventures. However, I’m sure that many have images of the Walt Disney movie and have never read the original book.
James Matthew Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan, was born in Scotland in 1860. He wrote novels for adults and was also a playwright, but “Peter Pan” is considered his greatest work.
Barrie’s book “The Little White Bird,” published in 1902, is the first story to feature the character Peter Pan. He decided to revive this character as the protagonist of a play that would feature children in principal roles. The play “Peter Pan; or, The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up” premiered on the London stage in 1904 to great acclaim.
In order to capitalize on the success of his play, Barrie produced several adaptations. In 1906 he published “Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens,” which is a slight revision of episodes from “The Little White Bird.” In 1911 he published “Peter and Wendy,” which is an adaptation of the play in novel form.
Barrie died in 1937, but “Peter Pan,” in both stage and book forms, endures as a classic children’s work. The library has Barrie’s books as well as videotapes of the Walt Disney animated classic and a stage production starring Cathy Rigby.
As part of the centenary celebration for Barrie’s play in 2004, the trustees at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital, the owner of the copyright to the original “Peter Pan,” held a contest to select a writer to create a sequel. English author Geraldine McCaughrean won the honor to write the official sequel, “Peter Pan in Scarlet,” which was published last October. Set in the 1930s, the Lost Boys are now grown up. They suffer from bad dreams leaking out of Neverland, and Wendy realizes they must all return and try to set things right.
For a different look at Peter Pan, you might be interested in reading the “prequels” written by humorist Dave Barry and suspense writer Ridley Pearson. In “Peter and the Starcatchers” these authors tell how Peter and a group of orphans meet with pirates and come to live on an island they name “Neverland.” Their adventures continue in “Peter and the Shadow Thieves.” These novels have a more modern feel in the humor and dialogue and are not at all “official” prequels to Barrie’s book, but those who are fascinated by the Peter Pan character may find them interesting to read.
To locate Neverland you can follow Peter’s directions – “Second to the right, and straight on till morning!” Or you can visit the library and locate the books by J.M. Barrie!