Monday, September 28, 2009

Peter Pan

When: Wednesday, September 30th, from 8:30 - 9:30 p.m.
Where: Hillside Village Clubhouse (1126 N. Polk Extension)
What: The Bookish Women are discussing J.M. Barrie's PETER PAN
Details: Bring food.

UPDATE: Here are the notes from our Peter Pan book club (much of these notes were taken from Wikipedia. Cool site, that Wikipedia, though not always 100% accurate...):

Bookish Women
September 30, 2009

J.M. Barrie’s PETER PAN

Meet Sir James Matthew Barrie (from Wikipedia):

Born: May 9, 1860 in Kirriemuir, Scotland
Died: June 19, 1937 (of pneumonia, aged 77) in London, England

Childhood and Adolescence:
James’ father, David Barrie, was a moderately successful weaver. His mother, Margaret Ogilvy, had assumed her own deceased mother’s responsibilities when she was eight, and often spoke of how she hadn’t had a childhood.
When James was seven, his older brother, David (who was his mother’s favorite), died in an ice-skating accident the night before his 14th birthday. James’ mother was devastated, and in an effort to gain his mother’s attentions, James would dress up in his brother’s clothing. It has been suggested that, as a result of his brother’s death and his mother’s resultant negligence, James suffered from psychogenic dwarfism—dwarfism caused by intense stress.
James studied at various academies before he enrolled in the University of Edinburgh.

Literay Career:
While in Edinburgh, James wrote drama reviews. Later, he moved to Nottingham, where he worked as a journalist at a newspaper. He then moved back to Kirriemuir and wrote nostalgic tales of Scotland for a London newspaper. His interests turned to novels and to playwriting.

Barrie’s Works:
• Auld Licht Idylls (1888)
• Better Dead (1888)
• A Window in Thrums (1889)
• The Little Minister (1891)
• Sentimental Tommy, The Story of His Boyhood (1896)
• Margaret Ogilvy (1896)
• Tommy and Grizel (1900)
• Quality Street (1901)
• The Admirable Crichton (1902)
• The Little White Bird; or, Adventures in Kensington Gardens (1902)
• Peter Pan (play) (1904)
• Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (1906)
• What Every Woman Knows (1906)
• When Wendy Grew Up - An Afterthought (1908)
• Peter and Wendy (novel) (1911)
• Dear Brutus (1917)
• Echoes of the War (1918)
• The Old Lady Shows Her Medals (1918), basis for the movie Seven Days Leave (1930), starring Gary Cooper
• A New World (1918)
• Barbara's Wedding (1918)
• A Well-Remembered Voice (1918)
• Alice Sit-By-The-Fire (1919)
• Mary Rose (play) (1920)
• My Lady Nicotine, A Study in Smoke (1926)
• Farewell Miss Julie Logan (1932)
• The Boy David (1936)
• Stories by English Authors: London (Selected by Scribners) (as Contributor)
• Stories by English Authors: Scotland (Selected by Scribners) (as Contributor)
• The Young Visiters or, Mr. Salteena's Plan by Daisy Ashford (preface

Barrie became acquainted with actress Mary Ansell in 1891. He was very ill in 1893 and ’94, and Ansell helped his family care for him. Barrie and Ansell married in 1894.
Barrie and Ansell divorced in 1909, on the grounds of Ansell’s infidelity.

Llewelyn Davies Family:
The Arthur Llewelyn Davies family (Arthur-father, Silvia-mother, George, John, Peter, Michael, Nicholas) played an important role in Barrie’s personal and professional life. Their acquaintance began in 1897 and lasted until Barrie’s death. Barrie was considered a trusted friend of the entire family. When Arthur died in 1907, Barrie supported the family financially. Upon Silvia’s death in 1910, Barrie was entrusted with the guardianship of the Llewelyn Davies boys, along with their maternal grandmother, their Uncle Guy Du Maurier (Silvia’s brother), and another uncle, Compton (Arthur’s brother).

Barrie was devastated by the deaths of George (killed in action in 1915—WWI) and Michael (drowned in 1921).
Of his “Uncle Jim,” Nicholas (the youngest of the Llewelyn Davies boys), wrote, “He was an innocent – which is why he could write Peter Pan.”

Barrie was made a baronet in 1913; his baronetcy was not inherited. He was made a member of the Order of Merit in 1922. In 1919 he was chosen to be Rector of the University of St Andrews for the next three years, and served as Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh from 1930 to 1937. He has a school named after him in Wandsworth, South West London. The Barrie School in Silver Spring, Maryland, is also named in his honor.


The first appearance of the character, Peter Pan, came in a book called THE LITTLE WHITE BIRD (serialized in the United States). Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up, was performed in 1904. PETER PAN IN KENSINGTON GARDENS was written in 1906, and depicts the character Peter’s life before Neverland. In 1908, a short work entitled, When Wendy Grew Up, was printed. In 1911, the Peter Pan play was developed into the novel, PETER AND WENDY. It has been adapted into films, plays, and musicals.
FYI: In 1929, Barrie gave the copyright of the Peter Pan works to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. All proceeds resulting from the sales/performances of those works go to the hospital.
FYI 2: The Peter Pan works introduced people to the name Wendy, which Barrie said was inspired by a young friend’s calling him “fwendy”—friendly.

Possible Discussion Topics
Unreliable narrator
Racism / Exaggerated Stereotypes
Gender Roles
Duty & Responsibility


  1. Hey Kim! Great idea for the blog!

    I just finished PP and I can't wait to talk about it! Loved it!

  2. I'm so glad you liked PP, Katie! There are so many crazy/cool/overt/subtle themes in this book. We'll have fun discussing it, I'm sure. See you tomorrow!

  3. Next Month's Reading: A Classic and a parallel book...
    *Night: By Elie Wiesel (1958)
    *I Have Live A Thousand Years: By Livia Bitton-Jackson (1999)

    These are great examples of Holocaust memoirs: one from a young man, the other from a 13 year-old girl. I have both if someone would like to borrow them.

  4. Thanks, April! I'm looking forward to this. And thanks, everyone, for a great time last night.