About the Author
J.M. Barrie (1860-1937)
James Matthew Barrie was born on May 9, 1860, in Kirriemuir, Angus, Scotland. After graduating from Edinburgh University in 1882, Barrie worked as a journalist. After having some success with fiction, Barrie began writing plays in 1890s. His play, Walker London, was warmly received. The comedy poked fun at the institution of marriage. He got married himself in 1894 to actress Mary Ansell, but it didn't turn out to be a happy union. (The couple later divorced.)
Perhaps to escape his difficult home life, Barrie took to going out for long walks in London's Kensington Gardens, where he met the five Llewelyn Davies brothers in the late 1890s. He found inspiration for his best-known work — Peter Pan — in his friendship with the Davies family. (Barrie would later become the boys' guardian after the death of their parents.)
The famous character of Peter Pan first appeared in the 1902 book The Little White Bird. Two years later, his play Peter Pan premiered on the London stage and became a great success. Audiences were drawn into the fantastical tale of the flying boy who never grew up and his adventures in Neverland with the Darling children. Barrie also wrote a book based on the play called Peter and Wendy, which was published in 1911. The book earned raves from critics.
Barrie died on June 19, 1937, in London, England. As a part of his will, he gave the copyright to Peter Pan to a children's hospital in London. After his death, Barrie's beloved characters were transformed into animated figures in the Disney classic Peter Pan (1953). The story was also the basis for the 1991 film Hook. And a live-action version of the story, Peter Pan, was released in 2003.
Through the years, numerous stage productions of Peter Pan have produced and have starred such actresses Mary Martin and Cathy Rigby. Barrie's most famous play continues to be a favorite with young and old alike. (From Biography.com)
Peter Pan (1911)
Peter Pan is a fictional character created by Scottish novelist and playwright J. M. Barrie. A free-spirited and mischievous young boy who can fly and never grows up, Peter Pan spends his never-ending childhood having adventures on the mythical island of Neverland as the leader of the Lost Boys, interacting with fairies, pirates, mermaids, Native Americans, and occasionally ordinary children from the world outside Neverland. Peter Pan has become a cultural icon symbolizing youthful innocence and escapism. (From Wikipedia)
Questions for Peter Pan
Pan is a pipe playing, half goat, demi-god of woods and natural creatures. What qualities make Peter Pan-like?
In most stage productions, Captain Hook and Mr. Darling are played by the same actor. What are their similarities and differences within the story? What is the significance of this casting choice?
What attitude do Mr. and Mrs. Darling have toward their children? What place does Nana occupy in the family and why? In what ways are the Darlings different and similar to other families?
Peter Pan refuses to grow up, yet he and Wendy spend a great deal of time pretending to be adults. What appeal do you think each of them finds in this sort of game?
What does Wendy gain by her voyage to Never Land? Does she learn anything about herself in her trip? Do any of the other characters change or learn?
In the book, Peter Pan, the narrator describes Neverland as “a map of a person’s mind.” He says each person’s “Neverland varies a good deal.” What does your Neverland look like?
(Questions from madisonlib.org)
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