Author Spotlight: JM Barrie
A Scottish author and dramatist, JM Barrie is known best for his character Peter Pan: the boy who would not grow up.
James Matthew Barrie was born into a large family and knew tragedy early on. His brother David died at the age of 14, and his mother’s sadness over the incident greatly affected him. So as a boy, he often organized and performed in plays for his family. At an early age, he wanted to become a writer. He attended Edinburgh University, where he started building his writing portfolio. He moved to London in 1885 to write for the Nottingham Journal.
He became successful at freelance writing and became friends with well-known writers such as HG Wells and Robert Louis Stevenson. Many of his work reflected his life in Scotland and his life with his family. He wrote a novel series called Thrums, which was based upon his life in Kirriemuir. He and Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle also collaborated on a less successful venture, the opera Jane Annie, or The Good Conduct Prize.
Barrie produced the Peter Pan plays during 1902–1921. The story was inspired by his friendship with the Llewellyn Davies family. The Peter Pan stories involved the Darling family, which had four children. Being the eldest, Wendy is constantly pressured to act more grown up to take care of her younger brothers. One day, she and her brothers are paid a visit by a strange boy and his shadow. The boy was named Peter Pan, and he took them on adventures involving pirates, alligators, and a fairy called Tinkerbell.
Peter Pan was the most successful of all of Barrie’s stories. It has been adapted into a Disney animated film, as well as into musicals and various other films. Barrie’s life was also adapted into a movie, Finding Neverland, where Barrie was played by Johnny Depp. In 2013, Finding Neverland was turned into a musical and took the Peter Pan author to the world of Neverland.
Barrie continued to write, but nothing came to the same level of fame as the Peter Pan stories. He died in London in 1937, and his will dictated that the copyright of Peter Pan be given to a children’s hospital. Despite being gone for centuries now, Barrie’s most beloved creation remains just as youthful as it was back when it was first introduced to us. Peter Pan lives in the hearts of both children and adults alike.
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