Childhood Studies Peter Pan
by
Kirsten Stirling
  • LAST REVIEWED: 13 May 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 13 January 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791231-0069

Introduction

Peter Pan is a classic of children’s literature, and the name of its hero has passed into the English language and taken on a life of its own. Everyone has heard of Peter Pan, whether or not they have encountered J. M. Barrie’s original works, and he has acquired a significance in popular culture that goes far beyond the reach of Barrie’s texts. The story of Peter Pan, who entices the Darling siblings to fly away to the Neverland, and their storybook adventures involving fairies, pirates, mermaids, and battles with the eternal enemy Captain Hook, enchanted its original audiences in 1904 and continues to fascinate children and adults today. Drawing on the pattern and archetypal characters of the fairy tale and the British pantomime tradition, Peter Pan gives the impression of being a much older story than it actually is, an effect that Barrie carefully crafted. Although Peter Pan is a play (and later also a novel) that has always been accessible to adults as well as children, it has children and the nature of childhood at its center. It dramatizes imaginary childhood games, both fantastic and domestic, and it stages the relationship between parents and children, as well as a child’s grief at the absence of that relationship. It can be read as a celebration of eternal childhood; however, it can equally be read as a cautionary tale about the risks of committing to such a state. The fact that the villainous pirate captain, Hook, is traditionally played on stage by the same actor as the children’s father, Mr. Darling, illustrates the play’s interest in family relationships and how they may be expressed in imaginative play. Not only has Peter Pan proved a goldmine for critics using psychoanalytic theory and gender theory, but popular psychology has also used Barrie’s eternal boy to name a psychological type: “the Peter Pan syndrome” describes men who seem to have difficulty growing up and assuming the responsibilities of adulthood. The 1953 Disney cartoon of Peter Pan is still, for many people, their first access to Barrie’s iconic character, but the range of critical approaches gathered here bears witness to the fact that Barrie’s original Peter Pan texts are much more complex and disturbing than the Disney adaptation makes apparent.

Editions and Related Texts

The complicated history of the Peter Pan texts sees the character move from prose to drama and back to prose again. Peter Pan first appeared in Barrie 1902, Barrie’s novel for adults The Little White Bird, but it was the production of the play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up first performed in 1904, that proved so popular with first British and then American audiences. Although various non-authorial literary spin-offs from the play were produced in the following years, Barrie did not write his novelization of the play, Peter and Wendy, until 1911 and did not publish a definitive script of the play until 1928 (all cited under First Editions).

First Editions

The play Peter Pan was first performed on 27 December 1904. Barrie 1911 is Barrie’s novelization of his play, Peter and Wendy; the full script of the play was not published until Barrie 1928. But the first appearance of the character Peter in print was Barrie 1902, the author’s novel for adults. The “Peter Pan” chapters of Barrie 1902 were later published separately in Barrie 1906 and marketed for a child audience.

  • Barrie, J. M. The Little White Bird. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1902.

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    The character of Peter Pan first appears in chapters thirteen to eighteen of this novel for adults. Told by the adult narrator to his young friend David, the story is quite different from the later versions of Peter Pan. It narrates how Peter flew to Kensington Gardens as a baby, his adventures with the fairies, and his encounter with the little girl Maimie Mannering.

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  • Barrie, J. M. Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1906.

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    The six Peter Pan chapters from The Little White Bird were reprinted separately as Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens and targeted at a child audience, with illustrations by Arthur Rackham.

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  • Barrie, J. M. Peter and Wendy. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1911.

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    The novelization of the play Peter Pan largely follows the plot of the play, telling the story of Wendy, John and Michael Darling’s flight to Neverland with Peter Pan, their adventures there, and their eventual return to London.

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  • Barrie, J. M. Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1928.

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    In 1928 Barrie finally published the script of the play Peter Pan, which was first performed in 1904. Like Peter and Wendy, it tells the story of the Darling children’s flight to Neverland and return to London.

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Modern Editions

There are many modern editions of the novel Peter and Wendy (Barrie 1911, cited under First Editions), including abridged and simplified versions, but only one edition of the play Peter Pan is in print at the time of writing. This section lists a selection of modern critical editions of the texts with notes and commentary. Barrie 1991 and Barrie 1995, both edited and introduced by Peter Hollindale, have detailed textual and historical notes and together cover the three published versions of the Peter Pan story. In Barrie 2004, Jack Zipes also places Peter and Wendy and Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens side by side. The only critical edition of the full text of The Little White Bird is Barrie 2000, edited by Andrew Nash. Barrie 2000 and Barrie 1991 both have the advantage of placing the Peter Pan–related texts in the context of other works by Barrie. The centerpiece of Barrie 2011, produced to mark the centenary of the publication of Peter and Wendy, is Maria Tatar’s annotated edition of the novel, but the volume also contains transcriptions and reproductions of many other documents related to Peter Pan.

  • Barrie, J. M. Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens and Peter and Wendy. Edited by Peter Hollindale. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.

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    Excellent edition of both prose versions of Peter Pan’s story, with an introduction and substantial explanatory notes by Peter Hollindale.

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  • Barrie, J. M. Peter Pan and Other Plays. Edited by Peter Hollindale. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

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    Peter Pan appears in a selection of Barrie’s plays, also including the extra scene “When Wendy Grew Up: An Afterthought,” which Barrie added to the end of the play for the performance of 22 February 1908. Detailed notes and a substantial introduction, much of which deals with Peter Pan.

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  • Barrie, J. M. Farewell Miss Julie Logan: A Barrie Omnibus. Edited by Andrew Nash. Edinburgh: Canongate, 2000.

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    The full text of The Little White Bird, containing the first appearance of the character Peter Pan in print, can be found in this selection of Barrie’s prose works. With textual and explanatory notes.

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  • Barrie, J. M. Peter Pan: Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens and Peter and Wendy. Edited by Jack Zipes. New York and London: Penguin, 2004.

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    Zipes’s introduction provides a biography of Barrie and goes on to describe Peter and Wendy, the “definitive” novel (p. xxv), as “the most complicated and sophisticated of all the versions of Peter Pan . . . It is not fiction for children” (p. xxii). Reads Peter as a rebel who rejects adulthood because society has failed him. Also includes explanatory notes.

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  • Barrie, J. M. The Annotated Peter Pan: The Centennial Edition. Edited by Maria Tatar. New York and London: Norton, 2011.

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    Presents an annotated text of Peter and Wendy, with illustrations taken from various editions. Also features a range of source material, some previously unpublished, including Barrie’s photographs of the Llewelyn Davies brothers (pp. 191–213), Arthur Rackham’s illustrations for Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (pp. 249–274), and Barrie’s scenario for a proposed film of Peter Pan (pp. 275–320). Tatar provides an introduction and other essays on Peter Pan and its legacy.

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General Criticism

There are a relatively small number of book-length works giving an overview of Barrie’s Peter Pan and its legacy. Some books dealing exclusively with the performance history of Peter Pan are listed in the section In Performance while others based in psychoanalytical theory are listed in the section Psychoanalytical Approaches. In the Peter Pan chapter of his groundbreaking introduction to the “golden age” of British children’s literature, Carpenter 1985 provides an early and valuable introduction to Barrie’s “terrible masterpiece.” Jack 1991 situates Peter Pan in the context of Barrie’s development as a dramatist and locates him in the Scottish literary tradition. The centenaries of the first performance of Peter Pan in 1904 and the publication of Peter and Wendy in 1911 have prompted a number of essay collections addressing Peter Pan from different theoretical perspectives. The essays in White and Tarr 2006 and Kavey and Friedman 2009 provide a range of different perspectives on the Peter Pan texts, and Kavey 2009 in this volume traces some of the literary and cultural origins of Neverland. Chassagnol, et al. 2010 introduces Peter Pan to a French readership, while Muñoz Corcuera and Di Biase 2012 presents a selection of essays in English and Spanish. Stirling 2012 approaches the Peter Pan texts from the perspective of origins and endings, and includes analysis of (and a substantial bibliography of) prequels, sequels, and rewritings of Barrie’s iconic text. Chassagnol, et al. 2010 and Barrie 2011 (cited under Modern Editions) also discuss sequels and rewritings.

  • Carpenter, Humphrey. “J. M. Barrie and Peter Pan: ‘That Terrible Masterpiece.’” In Secret Gardens: A Study of the Golden Age of Children’s Literature. By Humphrey Carpenter, 170–187. London: Allen & Unwin, 1985.

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    Introduces Peter Pan through Barrie’s biography, while warning against taking Barrie’s own literary self-construction at face value. Situates Barrie’s work in a history of writers for children (Charles Kingsley, George MacDonald, Kenneth Grahame) and argues that he is “attempting to replace conventional religion with something of his own devising . . . Peter Pan is an alternative religion” (p. 181).

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  • Chassagnol, Monique, Nathalie Prince, and Isabelle Cani. Peter Pan, Figure Mythique. Paris: Autrement, 2010.

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    After a general introduction to the genesis, texts, and legacy of Peter Pan, two central chapters by Chassagnol and Prince explore some of the darker interpretations of Barrie’s text: Peter Pan as dead child, the doubling of Peter and Hook, etc. A final chapter by Cani traces Peter Pan’s legacy in literature and film.

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  • Jack, R. D. S. The Road to the Never Land: A Reassessment of J. M. Barrie’s Dramatic Art. Aberdeen, Scotland: Aberdeen University Press, 1991.

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    Here Jack reassesses Barrie’s early dramatic work, partly from the point of view of Barrie’s critical neglect in the canon of Scottish literature. He sees Barrie’s early work as his “apprentice” (p. 25) and “journeyman” (p. 78) years, building up to the creation of his “masterpiece” (p. 155), Peter Pan, where his ideas regarding Creation myth and the power of language come to full fruition.

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  • Kavey, Allison B. “‘I Do Believe in Fairies, I Do, I Do’: The History and Epistemology of Peter Pan.” In Second Star to the Right: Peter Pan in the Popular Imagination. Edited by Allison B. Kavey and Lester D. Friedman, 75–104. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2009.

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    Comprehensive discussion of the development of the character and attributes of Peter Pan, and the literary and folk origins of the fairies and Neverland and its inhabitants.

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  • Kavey, Allison B., and Lester D. Friedman, eds. Second Star to the Right: Peter Pan in the Popular Imagination. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2009.

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    A cohesive collection of nine well-written essays exploring Peter Pan’s textual history, performance, and transformation in film and popular culture.

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  • Muñoz Corcuera, Alfonso, and Elisa T. Di Biase, eds. Barrie, Hook, and Peter Pan: Studies in Contemporary Myth; Estudios Sobre un Mito Contemporáneo. Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars, 2012.

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    A bilingual volume of essays (nine in English and eight in Spanish) that came out of a conference held in Madrid to celebrate the centenary of the publication of Peter and Wendy. The wide range of essays in this volume aim to “distance the quality of [Barrie’s] work as far as possible from his personal life” (p. xiii).

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  • Stirling, Kirsten. Peter Pan’s Shadows in the Literary Imagination. New York and London: Routledge, 2012.

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    Includes chapters on the multiple textual versions of Peter Pan, the pantomime tradition, the gendering of Wendy and Peter, representations of Barrie’s biography, and problems of closure. It also discusses a range of literary and filmic prequels and sequels. Includes comprehensive bibliographies of both secondary material on Peter Pan and modern rewritings of Barrie’s text.

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  • White, Donna R., and C. Anita Tarr, eds. J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan In and Out of Time: A Children’s Classic at 100. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2006.

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    A collection of fifteen essays, assessing Peter Pan both as a product of its time and in light of late-20th-century developments in critical theory.

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In Performance

The play Peter Pan was first performed on 27 December 1904, and was strongly influenced by the British pantomime tradition, as Davis 2005, Stirling 2012, and White and Tarr 2006 have discussed. Gubar 2011 goes beyond the pantomime influence to situate Peter Pan in the context of the emerging genre of children’s theater more generally. One performance tradition directly inherited from the pantomime is the casting of a female actor in the role of Peter Pan, which continued when the play was transformed into a Broadway musical. Donehue 1990, a television broadcast of the musical, starred Mary Martin in what would become an iconic interpretation of Peter. Green 1954 is an essential survey of the history of Peter Pan in its first fifty years of performance, and Hanson 1993 continues the story, focusing on the succession of female actors who have played Peter Pan on stage in Britain and America. Tuite 2009 also takes up the story of the female lead, with more context provided by contemporary gender theory, as does Garber 1992, cited under Gender.

  • Davis, Tracy C. “‘Do You Believe in Fairies?’: The Hiss of Dramatic License.” Theatre Journal 57 (2005): 57–81.

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    Examination of Barrie’s use and subversion of the ritualized audience participation of the Victorian pantomime tradition, discussing Coleridge’s “willing suspension of disbelief” in the context of the character Tinker Bell and the famous “clap your hands if you believe in fairies” scene.

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  • Donehue, Vincent J., dir. Peter Pan, 1960. VHS. New York: Goodtimes Home Video, 1990.

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    The 1960 NBC television broadcast of the 1954 Broadway musical version of Peter Pan, starring Mary Martin as Peter and Cyril Ritchard as Captain Hook. This is probably the best-known theatrical version of Barrie’s play in the United States and was highly influential on later adaptations. Released on DVD in 1999 but rather difficult and expensive to acquire.

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  • Green, Roger Lancelyn. Fifty Years of Peter Pan. London: Peter Davies, 1954.

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    Provides a valuable history of Peter Pan in performance, beginning with the textual and biographical origins of the play and moving through captivating accounts of its revisions and of the production of the play on stage. Includes the text of Barrie’s “Scenario for a proposed film of Peter Pan,” and an appendix of Peter Pan cast lists from 1904–1954.

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  • Gubar, Marah. “Peter Pan as Children’s Theatre: The Issue of Audience.” In The Oxford Handbook of Children’s Literature. Edited by Julia Mickenberg and Lynn Valone, 475–495. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

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    Considers Peter Pan in the context of the developing genre of children’s theater in the early 20th century, calling for further investigation of the actual engagement of child audiences with theatrical performances of Barrie’s play.

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  • Hanson, Bruce K. The Peter Pan Chronicles: The Nearly 100 Year History of the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. New York: Birch Lane, 1993.

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    Builds on Green 1954 with a history of Peter Pan in performance (stage and film) until Spielberg’s Hook in 1991. Illustrated throughout with playbills and rare photographs of performances and includes cast lists from 1904–1991.

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  • Stirling, Kirsten. “Peter and Pantomime.” In Peter Pan’s Shadows in the Literary Imagination. By Kirsten Stirling, 27–45. New York and London: Routledge, 2012.

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    Traces Peter Pan’s conscious debts to the pantomime and harlequinade traditions, concluding that much of the play’s tension lies in the way Barrie diverges from the pantomime’s stock characters of villain, Pantomime Dame, Principal Boy, etc.

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  • Tuite, Patrick B. “‘Shadow of [a] Girl’: An Examination of Peter Pan in Performance.” In Second Star to the Right: Peter Pan in the Popular Imagination. Edited by Allison B. Kavey and Lester D. Friedman, 105–131. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2009.

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    Surveys British and American performances of Peter Pan from 1904–1933, tracing how the character of Peter Pan was adapted and reshaped by the different women who took on the role.

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  • White, Donna, and Anita Tarr. “Introduction.” In J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan In and Out of Time: A Children’s Classic at 100. Edited by Donna R. White and C. Anita Tarr, vii–xxviii. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2006.

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    White and Tarr’s introduction includes a ten-page section situating Peter Pan in the context of the British pantomime tradition, boldly claiming “we say Peter Pan is a pantomime” (p. x).

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Barrie’s Biography

An overwhelming amount of Peter Pan criticism opens with an account of Barrie’s own life story, and there is a general tendency to interpret the Peter Pan texts in the light of Barrie’s own life, and, conversely, to explain events in Barrie’s life with statements taken from the literary texts. More sophisticated readings, such as Hollindale 2005 (cited under Dramatizations of Barrie’s Biography), or Carpenter 1985 (cited under General Criticism) acknowledge that much of Barrie’s biography is a consciously constructed self-representation. Nonetheless, the critical tendency continues, and few introductions to Peter Pan are without an extensive biographical section, while titles conflating biography and fiction (see Wullschläger 1995, cited under In Its Time) proliferate. Lurie 1990, first published in 1975, is one of the first to insist on a strong biographical interpretation of the play. There are two key moments in Barrie’s life story that provide particularly rich pickings for biographical interpretations of his literary works. The first is his childhood, with a focus on his close relationship with his mother, and the death of his older brother David at the age of thirteen, which is recounted in Barrie 1896, his biography of his mother, Margaret Ogilvy, and retold by all of his biographers. The second moment is his meeting and subsequent friendship with the Llewelyn Davies family in London. Peter Pan is dedicated to the five Llewelyn Davies brothers, who Barrie later adopted, and there is no doubt that the friendship and the imaginary games Barrie played with the brothers contributed enormously to the development of the play. Mackail 1941 is a thorough account of Barrie’s life with a focus on the London years to which he was (at least sometimes) a first-hand witness. Dunbar 1970 is a thorough and accessible biography of Barrie, while Ormond 1987 provides a comprehensive overview of his work. Birkin 1979 is now the standard biographical reference on Barrie, with the life story being told in the words of many primary sources where possible. It provides reproductions of photographs as well as Barrie’s letters and other writings, many of which are also available on Birkin’s website JMBarrie.co.uk. Young 2005 also reproduces images of notebooks, scripts, photographs, and other Barrie documents in the catalogue of an exhibition based on the J. M. Barrie collection at the Beinecke Library, Yale University. The website SirJMBarrie.com provides an illustrated summary (in French) of Barrie’s life and works.

  • Barrie, J. M. Margaret Ogilvy. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1896.

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    Barrie’s biography of his mother, her childhood and upbringing, as well as his own. Includes narration of the death of his brother David and its traumatic effect on his mother, and his own developing close relationship with her. Reprinted recently by Echo Press and also available as an e-book.

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  • Birkin, Andrew. J. M. Barrie and the Lost Boys. London: Constable, 1979.

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    Indispensable biography of Barrie narrated largely through the transcription of letters from and to Barrie, notebooks, and early drafts as well as excerpts from his published works. Fully illustrated with photographs and reproductions of documents. Originated in Birkin’s research for the BBC dramatization of Barrie’s life, The Lost Boys (Bennett 2006, cited under Dramatizations of Barrie’s Biography).

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  • Dunbar, Janet. J. M. Barrie: The Man Behind the Image. London: Collins, 1970.

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    Biography of Barrie’s life drawing on letters, diaries, and notebooks. Particularly interesting for its extensive incorporation of Peter Llewelyn Davies’s detailed explanatory notes to his collection of family papers.

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  • JMBarrie.co.uk.

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    This site hosts a database containing images and transcriptions related to Barrie’s biography collected by Andrew Birkin in the course of his research for The Lost Boys (Birkin 1979 and Bennett 2006, cited under Dramatizations of Barrie’s Biography). Includes Birkin’s transcriptions of Barrie’s notebooks, and scans of many documents and photographs.

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  • Lurie, Alison. “The Boy Who Couldn’t Grow Up.” In Don’t Tell the Grown-Ups: Subversive Children’s Literature. By Alison Lurie, 118–135. Boston: Little, Brown, 1990.

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    First published as an article in the New York Review of Books in 1975, this was one of the first pieces to critically reassess Barrie’s play, arguing for a strong link between Barrie’s biography and Peter Pan: “an allegory of Barrie’s relations with the Davies family” (p. 128).

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  • Mackail, Denis. The Story of J. M. B.: A Biography. London: Peter Davies, 1941.

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    Mackail’s biography, though not always accurate, is particularly valuable because as a child and a young man Mackail knew Barrie well (he was twelve years old when Peter Pan was first performed) and was one of a group of children invited to parties and performances at the Barries’ residence.

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  • Ormond, Leonee. J. M. Barrie. Edinburgh: Scottish Academic, 1987.

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    Less a biography than a reevaluation of Barrie’s life through a thorough consideration of his entire literary oeuvre. The analysis of Peter Pan covers just ten pages (pp. 100–109) in the middle of a chapter entitled “Barrie and the Theatre: 1902–1917” (pp. 85–118). It is valuable for precisely this reason, putting Peter Pan into the context of Barrie’s development as a writer.

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  • SirJMBarrie.com.

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    Website in French maintained by Céline Albin-Faivre, containing biographical and bibliographical information about Barrie and his works, including Peter Pan.

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  • Young, Timothy. My Heart in Company: The Work of J. M. Barrie and the Birth of Peter Pan. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005.

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    The catalogue of the exhibition of the same name based on the J. M. Barrie Collection at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, February–April 2005. Contains images of Barrie’s first notes on Peter Pan, early handwritten scripts, costume sketches, letters, and memorabilia.

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Dramatizations of Barrie’s Biography

There have been two major filmic interpretations of Barrie’s life, Bennett 2006, a three-part BBC drama, the research for which produced the meticulously documented biography Birkin 1979 (cited under Barrie’s Biography), and Forster 2004, the feature film Finding Neverland. While Bennett 2006 remains close to its documentary sources, Forster 2004 (based on an earlier stage play by Allen Knee) departs from the biographical facts, as Geer 2007 discusses, to make a more family-friendly “tearjerker” movie (p. 196). Birkin’s and Forster’s dramatizations are compared at some length in Hollindale 2005 and Stirling 2012 (cited under General Criticism). Finding Neverland has been given more article-length treatment, with analysis often focusing on the drawbacks and advantages to its modifications of the historical facts. Jackson 2004 claims that “standard dramatic license” and “standard poetic license” justify Finding Neverland’s “pack of whoppers” (p. 14), while Maier 2007 applies the term “literary biomythography” to describe its mixture of fact and fiction (p. 151).

  • Bennett, Rodney, dir. The Lost Boys, 1978. DVD. Port Washington, NY: Koch Entertainment, 2006.

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    Originally aired as a three-part miniseries on BBC television in 1978, written by Andrew Birkin. Closely based on textual sources, this series of three ninety-minute episodes dramatizes the problematic relationships in Barrie’s life and their influence on Peter Pan, including his marriage to Mary Ansell and his friendship with the Llewelyn Davies family. Continues to include the deaths of Arthur and Sylvia Llewelyn Davies and Barrie’s adoption of the boys.

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  • Forster, Marc, dir. Finding Neverland. DVD. Burbank, CA: Miramax Home Entertainment, 2004.

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    Adaptation of Allan Knee’s play The Man Who Was Peter Pan (1998). Screenplay by David Magee. Dramatization of the links between Barrie’s life and the genesis of the Peter Pan story. The many changes to the documented facts include enhancing the romance between Barrie (Johnny Depp) and Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Kate Winslett) and treating fantasy as an escape from the pressures of real life.

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  • Geer, Jennifer. “J. M. Barrie Gets the Miramax Treatment: Finding (and Marketing) Neverland.” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 32.3 (2007): 193–212.

    DOI: 10.1353/chq.2007.0039Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Discusses how Finding Neverland “transforms the historical facts of J. M. Barrie’s life into a . . . melodramatic tearjerker” (p. 196), marketed as a “family-oriented fantasy” (p. 199) to bridge the gap between its subject matter and the target audience most associated with Peter Pan.

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  • Hollindale, Peter. “A Hundred Years of Peter Pan.” Children’s Literature in Education 36.3 (2005): 197–215.

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    Describes Peter Pan as “two co-existent stories”: the play itself, and “the biographical story of its genesis and aftermath” (p. 199). The article traces the interweaving of these two stories in Barrie criticism, and discusses the treatment of Barrie’s biography in two dramatizations: Andrew Birkin’s The Lost Boys (BBC, 1978) and Marc Forster’s Finding Neverland (2004), finishing with an assessment of P. J. Hogan’s live-action Peter Pan film (2003).

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  • Jackson, Kevin. “The Innocents.” Sight and Sound 14.11 (2004): 14–17.

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    Review of Finding Neverland, which holds that the “movie’s triflings with reality” strengthen its plot. Concludes that “Barrie’s remains a minor art . . . because he deals almost wholly with escape, not with return” (p. 17), but this seems to be based entirely on the representation of Barrie and his art in Finding Neverland, and not on Barrie’s actual writings.

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  • Maier, Sarah E. “From Peter Pan to Finding Neverland: A Visual Biomythography of James M. Barrie.” In Fantasy Fiction into Film: Essays. Edited by Leslie Stratyner and James R. Keller, 150–162. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2007.

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    Applies Michael Benton’s term “literary biomythography” to Marc Forster’s biopic (p. 151), praising the film’s “blurring” of the man and the myth. Following the film’s explicit identification of Barrie with Peter Pan, Maier identifies several more life-fiction parallels, including Emma du Maurier as Hook, Sylvia Llewelyn Davies as Wendy, and Mary Barrie as Tinker Bell.

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Psychoanalytical Approaches

The strong tradition of biographical readings of Peter Pan, especially the insistence on Barrie’s close relationship with his mother, is grist to the mill of psychoanalytic literary critics, and Peter Pan’s interrogation of gender identity, adult-child relationships, and particularly the figure of the mother makes it particularly attractive to a psychoanalytic interpretation. Psychoanalytic approaches are among the earliest theoretical engagements with Barrie’s text and split broadly into two camps: the Jungian (Hallman 1969, Yeoman 1998) and the Freudian (Karpe 1956, Meisel 1977, Egan 1982). While Hallman 1969 reads the landscape and inhabitants of Neverland as manifestations of the collective unconscious, he also, like Yeoman 1998, focuses on Peter as the puer aeternus archetype. Early Freudian critics of Barrie’s text focus mainly on what they perceive as the family romance: Karpe 1956 mainly discusses Barrie’s own oedipal struggles, while Meisel 1977 and Egan 1982 identify the triangular relationship between Peter Pan, Wendy, and Captain Hook as a classic example of the oedipal plot. A more nuanced Freudian approach is provided in Kelley-Lainé 1992, who focuses on the subject’s grief for lost childhood, and Rotert 1990 who gives greater emphasis to Peter’s narcissism. Rose 1994 is perhaps the most influential work of criticism on Peter Pan, and she too bases her analysis on a Freudian approach but distances herself from both biography and symbolism, focusing rather on language and the construction of the state of “childhood” (p. 8). More recently critics have begun applying Lacanian theories to Peter Pan, with Coats 2004 developing the idea of Peter as a signifier of jouissance, and Rudd 2012 identifying Peter as “betwixt and between” the Imaginary and the Symbolic.

  • Coats, Karen. Looking Glasses and Neverlands: Lacan, Desire, and Subjectivity in Children’s Literature. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2004.

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    In the context of a book that gives a Lacanian reading of canonical children’s literature, Coats’ brief treatment of Peter Pan (pp. 89–95) argues that Barrie’s text offers a “vivid and sustained picture of the subject’s relation to jouissance” (p. 89); this Lacanian term covers mother-child unity, sexual jouissance, and also the “pleasure of the text” (p. 92).

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  • Egan, Michael. “The Neverland of Id: Barrie, Peter Pan, and Freud.” Children’s Literature 10 (1982): 37–55.

    DOI: 10.1353/chl.0.0133Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Basing himself on Bruno Bettelheim’s Freudian approach to children’s literature, Egan, as his title implies, reads Neverland as a “psychodrama of the unconscious” (p. 40), a “poetic version of the Freudian id” (p. 44). He parallels Mrs. Darling with the repressive mechanism of the superego, and sees the relationships between Hook, Wendy, and Peter as acting out “the archetypal Freudian triad (Oedipal Father-Mother - Oedipal son)” (p. 51).

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  • Hallman, Ralph J. “The Archetypes in Peter Pan.” Journal of Analytical Psychology 14.1 (1969): 65–73.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1465-5922.1969.00065.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A Jungian reading of Peter Pan, concentrating mainly on Peter as the archetype of the Eternal Child, constituted by “his abandonment, his invincibility, his hermaphroditism and his potentiality” (p. 66). The symbolic unfolding of the plot allows him to identify a number of other Jungian archetypes, such as the cave where the lost boys live (the womb), the tree (the mother), and the deep lagoon (the unconscious).

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  • Karpe, Marietta. “The Origins of Peter Pan.” Psychoanalytic Review 43 (1956): 104–110.

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    A Freudian reading locating the origins of Peter Pan in Barrie’s own oedipal struggle, and reiterating the significance of the death of Barrie’s older brother David at the age of thirteen.

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  • Kelley-Lainé, Kathleen. Peter Pan, ou l’Enfant Triste. Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1992.

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    A Freudian reading focusing on the trauma of lost childhood. Analyses of Barrie’s text are interspersed with reflections on his biography and memoirs of the author’s own childhood. Translated as Peter Pan: The Story of Lost Childhood (Salisbury: Element Books, 1997).

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  • Meisel, Frederick L. “The Myth of Peter Pan.” Psychoanalytic Study of the Child 32 (1977): 545–563.

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    A Freudian reading of Peter Pan as a story of “developmental conflict” and “a child’s repair of injured narcissism” in the context of a problematic oedipal narrative that stages a “disappointing and infantile” father and a powerful pregenital mother (p. 560).

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  • Rose, Jacqueline. The Case of Peter Pan or The Impossibility of Children’s Fiction. London: Macmillan, 1994.

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    First published in 1984, Rose’s highly influential book is based on a psychoanalytical approach to Peter Pan, but opens with the strong statement: “We have been reading the wrong Freud to children” (p. 12). Dismissing biography and symbolism as “the ‘worst’ of Freud” (p. 19), she focuses rather on language and childhood in Freud’s work. (Also listed under section Children’s Literature.)

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  • Rotert, Richard. “The Kiss in a Box.” Children’s Literature 18 (1990): 114–123.

    DOI: 10.1353/chl.0.0056Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A nuanced Freudian reading of Peter Pan, focusing on Peter’s rejection of fatherliness, his narcissism, and his fixation on the mother-figure.

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  • Rudd, David. “Never, Never, Never Land: The Dangerous Appeal of the Sublime Object of Ideology.” In Barrie, Hook, and Peter Pan: Studies in Contemporary Myth; Estudios Sobre un Mito Contemporáneo. Edited by Alfonso Muñoz Corcuera and Elisa T. Di Biase, 54–65. Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars, 2012.

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    Rudd rejects the Freudian Oedipal interpretation on the grounds that Peter Pan never enters the symbolic order to take the place of the father. He proposes a Lacanian reading in which Peter Pan is “stuck between ‘being’ and ‘meaning’” (p. 61), between the Imaginary and the Symbolic, and reads him as “what Slavoj Žižek terms ‘the sublime object of ideology’” (p. 60).

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  • Yeoman, Ann. Now or Neverland: Peter Pan and the Myth of Eternal Youth. A Psychological Perspective on a Cultural Icon. Toronto: Inner City, 1998.

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    A Jungian approach to Peter Pan, seeing Peter as a manifestation of the puer aeternus archetype and situating him within a “mythological ancestry” including Mercury, Icarus, and Christ. The book concludes by discussing Peter Pan’s perennial popularity in terms of the “creative autonomy of the psyche” (p. 178).

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Popular Psychology

As well as the psychoanalytical readings listed under Psychoanalytical Approaches, Barrie’s play and particularly the name of his main character have also been appropriated by popular psychology and used to describe a particular psychological type. The key work in this genre is Kiley 1983, which popularized the term “Peter Pan syndrome” to describe an immature, narcissistic personality. This was soon followed in Kiley 1984, which addresses the “Wendy dilemma” faced by women in a relationship with a Peter Pan. More recently the “Tinkerbell syndrome” has entered popular discourse, and Tenenbaum 2012 develops this in her description of workaholic modern women. None of these popular psychology volumes is particularly useful in reading and interpreting Barrie’s work, but they do illustrate to what extent his characters have gripped the popular imagination.

  • Kiley, Dan. The Peter Pan Syndrome: Men Who Have Never Grown Up. New York: Dodd Mead, 1983.

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    Kiley uses Barrie’s text (which provides an epigraph to each chapter) to illustrate the “syndrome” he has defined to describe men who seem to resist growing up, who avoid facing responsibilities and expressing emotions, who are egocentric and narcissistic and often have problems forming long-lasting relationships.

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  • Kiley, Dan. The Wendy Dilemma: When Women Stop Mothering their Men. New York: Arbor House, 1984.

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    The follow-up to Kiley’s Peter Pan Syndrome, this book provides advice for women who find themselves in relationships with immature men who they find themselves “mothering” (p. ix).

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  • Tenenbaum, Sylvie. Le Syndrome de la Fée Clochette: Ces Femmes Qui Font du Mal et Se Font Mal. Paris: Editions du Moment, 2012.

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    Takes Barrie’s Tinker Bell (la Fée Clochette in French) to name what the author perceives as a contemporary condition: hyperactive, workaholic women who are full of anger and unable to form lasting relationships.

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Gender

Barrie’s Peter Pan texts are highly concerned with gender identity. Kissel 1988 is an early feminist reading of Peter Pan, using Barrie’s text in tandem with feminist sociology to urge for greater gender equality. In a more nuanced analysis of the gender dynamics of Peter Pan, Garber 1992 links the performance tradition of a female actor playing Peter to the ambiguous sexuality of Peter himself. More recently, Wilson 2000 and Clark 2006 have analyzed the gender politics of the play in parallel with its concerns with class and race. Peter’s fascination with the mother figure, treated by many of the critics listed under Psychoanalytical Approaches, is discussed in Roth 2006 in its discussion of Wendy and the “cult of the little girl” (p. 48) and given a new angle in Morse 2006, which proposes that the action of the play acts out the unconscious desires of Wendy’s mother, Mrs. Darling. Ohmer 2009 (cited under At the Movies) discusses how the gender instability of Barrie’s play is made more normative in the Disney animated version, while Routh 2001 traces the representation of Wendy’s gender identity in illustrations to the texts. There is surprisingly little treatment of Peter Pan from the perspective of queer theory, with Garber 1992 being a notable exception. Prusko 2012 highlights this gap, though its analysis of the “queering of the child” is concerned more with the instability created by the narrative than with sexual queerness.

  • Clark, Emily. “The Female Figure in J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan: The Small and the Mighty.” In J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan In and Out of Time: A Children’s Classic at 100. Edited by Donna R. White and C. Anita Tarr, 303–319. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2006.

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    Influenced by gender and postcolonial theory, in this article Clark argues that although in Neverland Wendy, Tinker Bell, and Tiger Lily represent stereotypes determined by their gender, class, and race, they also reappropriate agency for themselves.

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  • Garber, Marjorie. “Fear of Flying, or, Why is Peter Pan a Woman?” In Vested Interests: Cross-Dressing and Cultural Anxiety. By Marjorie Garber, 165–185. New York and London: Routledge, 1992.

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    In keeping with the interests of the book as a whole, this examines the theatrical tradition of cross-dressing in Peter Pan, proposing that “Peter is, theatrically and culturally, a transvestite” (p. 170). Includes discussion of Barrie’s biography, the pantomime tradition, castration anxiety in the play, and a digression into cross-dressing among 18th-century pirates.

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  • Kissel, Susan. “‘But When at Last She Really Came, I Shot Her’: Peter Pan and the Drama of Gender.” Children’s Literature in Education 19.1 (1988): 32–41.

    DOI: 10.1007/BF01142918Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Reads Barrie’s play in the light of feminist sociology and psychology to argue that Barrie stages the “war between the sexes” through Wendy’s identification with her mother’s role and Peter’s “disconnectedness” (p. 36). Moves away from the play to argue that until true gender equality has been achieved, the inevitability of gender division in Barrie’s play will continue to reflect our own society.

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  • Morse, M. Joy. “The Kiss: Female Sexuality and Power in J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan.” In J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan In and Out of Time: A Children’s Classic at 100. Edited by Donna R. White and C. Anita Tarr, 281–302. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2006.

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    Situating Peter Pan in the context of the condition of women in Victorian England, this article ingeniously argues that the children’s journey to Neverland “transpires within the dream-world of Mrs. Darling’s unconscious” (pp. 294–295), and that Peter represents her desire to escape from her domestic and maternal existence.

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  • Prusko, Rachel. “Queering the Reader in Peter and Wendy.” Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures 4.2 (2012): 107–125.

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    Less concerned with “a sexual view of queerness” than with queerness as strangeness, a departure from the “normative,” and with the “queering of the child” (p. 108) both inside and outside the text, that is produced by the destabilizing quality of the narrative voice.

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  • Roth, Christine. “Babes in Boy-Land: J. M. Barrie and the Edwardian Girl.” In J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan In and Out of Time: A Children’s Classic at 100. Edited by Donna R. White and C. Anita Tarr, 47–67. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2006.

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    Situates Barrie’s play in the context of the Victorian “cult of the little girl” (p. 48) and examines his practice of “embodying two opposing images or roles in a single female character” (p. 52): in this case, Wendy’s oscillation between the roles of little girl and of mother.

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  • Routh, Chris. “‘Man for the Sword and for the Needle She’: Illustrations of Wendy’s Role in J. M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy.” Children’s Literature in Education 32.1 (2001): 57–75.

    DOI: 10.1023/A:1005218105671Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Analyzes the representation of Wendy’s gendered identity and her relationship to Peter through a study of a number of modern illustrators of Peter and Wendy, including Jan Ormerod, Michael Foreman, and Paula Rego. Most interestingly, through his examination of illustrations of Wendy sewing Peter’s shadow back on, develops a parallel between sewing and storytelling.

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  • Wilson, Ann. “Hauntings: Anxiety, Technology, and Gender in Peter Pan.” Modern Drama 43.4 (2000): 595–610.

    DOI: 10.3138/md.43.4.595Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Reads the Lost Boys as dead children and Peter Pan as a ghost, a manifestation of the uncanny in a text marked by anxiety regarding modernity, class, race, and gender.

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In Its Time

A number of articles attempt to resituate Peter Pan in its socio-historical context, some aided by the insights of contemporary critical theory. McGavock 2009 locates Barrie’s text in the context of Edwardian notions of childhood, as does Roth 2006 (cited under the section Gender). Brewer 2007 and Smith 2006 take opposing approaches drawn from critical theory in attempts to determine how to place Barrie in relation to the racist and colonialist discourse of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Fox 2006, like Wullschläger 1995, detects the influence of the aesthetics of decadence in Barrie’s work, while Robertson 2009 turns the question of influence around to consider how Peter Pan made its mark on political discourse of the First World War.

  • Brewer, Mary. “Peter Pan and the White Imperial Imaginary.” New Theatre Quarterly 23.4 (2007): 387–392.

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    Reads Peter Pan as staging a “white fantasy of racial difference” (p. 387) and Peter, as the “great white father,” exercising his white patriarchal authority over Wendy, the Lost Boys, and the “island’s indigenous inhabitants” (p. 390).

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  • Fox, Paul. “The Time of His Life: Peter Pan and the Decadent Nineties.” In J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan In and Out of Time: A Children’s Classic at 100. Edited by Donna R. White and C. Anita Tarr, 23–45. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2006.

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    Reads Peter Pan as directly influenced by the fin-de-siècle aesthetic of decadence and draws parallels with Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray (who also chooses not to age) and the aesthetics of Walter Pater.

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  • McGavock, Karen. “Cult or Cull? Peter Pan and Childhood in the Edwardian Age.” In Childhood in Edwardian Fiction: Worlds Enough and Time. Edited by Adrienne E. Gavin and Andrew F. Humphries, 37–52. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

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    Looking at both the play and the novel, argues that although Peter Pan seems to correspond to the Edwardian sentimentalizing of childhood, Barrie’s texts in fact deconstruct and problematize contemporary conceptions of childhood.

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  • Robertson, Linda. “‘To Die Will Be an Awfully Big Adventure’: Peter Pan in World War I.” In Second Star to the Right: Peter Pan in the Popular Imagination. Edited by Allison B. Kavey and Lester D. Friedman, 50–74. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2009.

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    Traces echoes of Peter Pan’s cry “to die will be an awfully big adventure” in literary, political, and popular cultural contexts in order to explore ways in which Peter Pan became used as the “image of the youthful soldier off on the Great Adventure” (p. 61) in the context of World War 1.

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  • Smith, Clay Kinchen. “Problematizing Piccaninnies, or How J. M. Barrie Uses Graphemes to Counter Racism in Peter Pan.” In J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan In and Out of Time: A Children’s Classic at 100. Edited by Donna R. White and C. Anita Tarr, 107–125. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2006.

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    Argues that while Barrie’s text may appear on the surface to be rooted in racist discourse, Barrie is in fact deconstructing prevalent racist stereotypes of indigenous peoples in a “pedagogy of problematization” (p. 110) that works to highlight and question racist categories.

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  • Wullschläger, Jackie. “J. M. Barrie: the Boy Who Would Not Grow Up.” In Inventing Wonderland: Victorian Childhood as Seen Through the Lives and Fantasies of Lewis Carroll. Edited by Edward Lear, J. M. Barrie, Kenneth Grahame, and A. A. Milne, 107–141. New York: Free Press, 1995.

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    Argues that “Barrie fitted his preoccupations to the times” (p. 120), situating Peter Pan in the context of the cult of youth that characterized the Edwardian age, from Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray to Robert Baden-Powell’s scout movement. Concludes with a short section linking Peter Pan with Barrie’s biography.

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Children’s Literature

Lurie 1990 (cited under Barrie’s Biography) and Blake 1977 are among the first pieces of criticism both to consider Peter Pan within the category of “children’s literature” and to problematize the perception of Barrie’s text as charming and escapist. But it is Rose 1994 that takes Peter Pan as a case study to argue that the category of “children’s literature” is an adult construction imposed on children and has made Barrie’s iconic text paradigmatic to the very concept of children’s literature. Kincaid 1992 is often cited along with Rose 1994 as a book that has changed children’s literature as a field. Like Rose, he paints a rather disturbing picture of the role of the child in these classic texts, focusing, as his title indicates, on “child-loving.” Besides Rose’s influential argument, which is beginning to be challenged, Peter Pan’s extreme popularity, with adults as well as children, has invited comparisons with other phenomena in the history of literature for children. Kincaid 1992 and Billone 2004 both find that Carroll’s Alice books provide an obvious comparison with Barrie, and at the beginning of the 21st century J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books seem to enjoy a popularity parallel to Peter Pan’s at the beginning of the 20th (Billone 2004). Gilead 1991 discusses the endings of a number of children’s fantasy narratives, but her conclusions are particularly relevant to the lack of closure in Peter Pan.

  • Billone, Amy. “The Boy Who Lived: From Carroll’s Alice and Barrie’s Peter Pan to Rowling’s Harry Potter.” Children’s Literature 32 (2004): 178–202.

    DOI: 10.1353/chl.2004.0005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A gender-based comparison of Peter Pan with the Alice and Harry Potter books, questioning whether “girls participate as comfortably in fantasylands as boys do” (p. 179). Explores Peter and Wendy’s differing access to childhood and to Neverland, comparing the resistance Alice encounters in Wonderland with Harry Potter’s recurrent access to the land of dreams.

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  • Blake, Kathleen. “The Sea-Dream: Peter Pan and Treasure Island.” Children’s Literature 6 (1977): 165–181.

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    Situates Peter Pan in a literary lineage including Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719) and R. L. Stevenson’s Treasure Island (1883). Highlights Stevenson’s important influence on Barrie and also points out more generally the consciously intertextual nature of Peter Pan / Peter and Wendy: “just about everything that happens [in Neverland] has happened before—in books” (p. 168).

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  • Gilead, Sarah. “Magic Abjured: Closure in Children’s Fantasy Fiction.” PMLA (Publications of the Modern Language Association of America) 106.2 (1991): 277–293.

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    Compares different “return-to-reality” endings in fantasy narratives. In the “return as Bildung” (p. 278) (e.g., The Wizard of Oz) the protagonist matures as a result of the fantasy interlude. The return-to-reality ending may alternatively reject or deny the experience of the fantasy (e.g., Alice). Peter Pan, like Mary Poppins, occupies a third category: “return as tragic ambiguity” (p. 285), where the fantasy remains uninterpretable.

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  • Kincaid, James R. “The Wonder Child in Neverland.” In Child-Loving: The Erotic Child and Victorian Culture. By James R. Kincaid, 275–299. New York and London: Routledge, 1992.

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    In the context of his book discussing society’s construction of the child as desirable, this chapter argues that Peter Pan, with Carroll’s Alice, is desirable but ultimately “elusive and maddening” (p. 298). Kincaid’s focus is on Peter’s perpetuation of the play of childhood, considering Hook as “the complete pedophile and the perfect child” combined and Wendy as “an intruder, a disturber of the peace and play” (p. 285).

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  • Rose, Jacqueline. The Case of Peter Pan or The Impossibility of Children’s Fiction. London: Macmillan, 1994.

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    First published in 1984, Rose’s highly influential book takes a psychoanalytical approach to Peter Pan as the basis for her argument that the genre of “children’s literature” is a construction imposed on children by adults, and rooted in “the author’s desire for the child” (p. 3). (Also listed under section Psychoanalytical Approaches.)

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At the Movies

The Disney animated Peter Pan (Geronomi, et al. 2002) still represents many people’s first encounter with the Peter Pan story. The effect of Disney’s changes on the gender politics of the animated version is discussed in detail in Crafton 1989 and Ohmer 2009. Stephen Spielberg’s Hook (Spielberg 2000) is a live-action sequel to Peter Pan in which Peter has grown up and forgotten all about Neverland. Tarr 1993 discusses the relationship between the sequel and the original, while Pace 1996 links Spielberg’s message to modern Jungian rediscoveries of masculinity. There have been a number of Peter Pan–related releases since 2000: Disney brought out a sequel, Return to the Never Land, in 2002, Hogan 2004 is a live-action Peter Pan starring Jeremy Sumpter and drawing on the Disney version (discussed in Hollindale 2005, cited under Dramatizations of Barrie’s Biography), and the biopic Finding Neverland (Forster 2004, also cited under Dramatizations of Barrie’s Biography) came out in 2004.

  • Crafton, Donald. “The Last Night in the Nursery: Walt Disney’s Peter Pan.” Velvet Light Trap 24 (1989): 33–52.

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    History of the long production of the Disney animated Peter Pan. Focuses on the character of Wendy and the representation of female sexuality in the film.

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  • Geronomi, Clyde, Wilfred Jackson, and Hamilton Luske, dirs. Peter Pan, 1953. DVD. Burbank, CA: Walt Disney Home Video, 2002.

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    The Disney animated version maintains Barrie’s basic story line but introduces many minor changes and simplifications, as well as departing almost entirely from the language of the original.

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  • Hogan, P. J., dir. Peter Pan, 2003. DVD. Burbank, CA: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, 2004.

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    Live-action film of Peter Pan, following the Disney version in focusing on Wendy’s approaching adolescence and emphasizing the romance between Peter and Wendy.

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  • Ohmer, Susan. “Disney’s Peter Pan: Gender, Fantasy, and Industrial Production.” In Second Star to the Right: Peter Pan in the Popular Imagination. Edited by Allison B. Kavey and Lester D. Friedman, 151–187. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2009.

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    A thorough history and analysis of the Disney Peter Pan, detailing the production discussions at Disney, the marketing of the film, and discussing Disney’s ironing out of the sexual ambiguity of Barrie’s original, with particular focus on the character of Peter, who becomes a “young man” and Tinker Bell, who becomes “exaggeratedly feminine” (p. 175).

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  • Pace, Patricia. “Robert Bly Does Peter Pan: The Inner Child as Father to the Man in Steven Spielberg’s Hook.” The Lion and the Unicorn 20.1 (1996): 113–120.

    DOI: 10.1353/uni.1996.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Links Hook to the “books of the Jungian men’s movement,” encouraging men to reconnect with primal masculinity. Peter’s defeat of Hook is thus a “metaphoric ceremony of manhood” (p. 116). Concludes that Spielberg’s Hook, unlike Barrie’s original, is finally a regressive, nostalgic fantasy, reinscribing Peter Pan as the head of the patriarchal family (p. 52).

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  • Spielberg, Steven, dir. Hook, 1991. DVD. Burbank, CA: Columbia TriStar Home Video, 2000.

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    Live-action sequel to Peter Pan in which Peter (Robin Williams) has grown up and forgotten about Neverland. Hook (Dustin Hoffman) returns to steal his children and lure his old enemy back to the fight. Despite flouting the key principle that Peter Pan “would never grow up,” Spielberg’s sequel is remarkably faithful to the spirit of Barrie’s text and highlights many of the more complex interpretations of Peter Pan.

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  • Tarr, Carol Anita. “Shifting Images of Adulthood: from Barrie’s Peter Pan to Spielberg’s Hook.” In The Antic Art: Enhancing Children’s Literary Experiences Through Film and Video. Edited by Lucy Rollin, 63–72. Fort Atkinson, WI: Highsmith, 1993.

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    Discusses the perils of adapting Peter Pan, pointing out that Hook both flouts Barrie’s conception (by making Peter grow up) and yet is reverent to Barrie’s text, thus inheriting the “psychologically problematic issues” (p. 63) of the original. Tarr highlights, however, that Spielberg shifts the focus from mothers to fathers and from childhood to adulthood.

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Adaptations

The indeterminate origins of the character Peter Pan and the unresolved endings of all the texts in which he appears makes Peter Pan particularly attractive to writers of adaptations. However the holders of the copyright to Peter Pan, Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, to whom Barrie donated the rights in 1929, kept strict control over granting permission to authors of adaptations until the text fell out of copyright in the United Kingdom and most of Europe in 2008. The sequel Somma 1999 became a test case in copyright law when Great Ormond Street Hospital refused permission for publication in the United Kingdom and the United States (it is published in Canada). In 2004, Great Ormond Street Hospital launched a competition to find the author of an “official” sequel to Peter Pan, to replace the royalty income that would be lost when Barrie’s text entered the public domain in 2008. McCaughrean 2006 was the winner, another sequel which explores the prospect of an adolescent Peter Pan. Barry and Pearson 2004 is a popular prequel explaining Peter’s origins with a science-fiction plot. But some of the most clever and inventive rewritings of Barrie’s iconic text are to be found in non-anglophone countries, most notably Loisel 2013, a French bande dessinée prequel for adults, and Fresán 2005, a Spanish novel that mixes elements of Barrie’s biography with the life of a contemporary writer of children’s fiction.

  • Barry, Dave, and Ridley Pearson. Peter and the Starcatchers. New York: Disney/Hyperion, 2004.

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    The first of a series of prequels to Barrie’s Peter Pan, written for a children’s audience, and explaining the fantastic elements of Barrie’s narrative with a science fiction adventure plot, in which good and evil forces battle for some extra-terrestrial energy known as “starstuff.”

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  • Fresán, Rodrigo. Jardines de Kensington. Barcelona: Debolsillo, 2005.

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    A combination of fact and fiction, mixing elements of Barrie’s biography and the story of Peter Pan with the first-person narration of a writer of children’s literature who uses the pseudonym “Peter Hook.” Fresán draws on the darker subtexts of both the biography and the fiction to establish sinister parallels between his narrator and J. M. Barrie. Translated by Natasha Wimmer as Kensington Garden (London: Faber and Faber, 2005).

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  • Loisel, Régis. Peter Pan. Issy-les-Moulineaux: Vents d’Ouest, 1990–2004. London: Soaring Penguin, 2013.

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    A series of six bandes dessinées (graphic novels), destined for an adult audience, written as a prequel to Barrie’s story. A dark interpretation of Barrie’s idea of imagination, this series traces Peter’s origins to an abusive upbringing in the London of Jack the Ripper, and pursues the hints of violence in Barrie’s text to extremes. Translated into English by Nicolas Rossert with Paul Rafferty, Nora Goldberg.

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  • McCaughrean, Geraldine. Peter Pan in Scarlet. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

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    The winner of Great Ormond Street Hospital’s competition to find an “official sequel” to Peter Pan, McCaughrean’s novel picks up on many details from Barrie’s original to tell the story of a Neverland in crisis where time has begun to pass, and where the problems of adolescence replace the eternal childhood represented by Barrie.

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  • Somma, J. E. After the Rain: A New Adventure for Peter Pan. Hamilton, ON: Daisy, 1999.

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    A Canadian-published sequel to Peter Pan in which Peter meets three 20th-century American children who try to convince him that it would be a good idea to grow up. This book is known particularly because Somma was refused permission to publish it in the United States and the United Kingdom by the holders of Peter Pan’s copyright, Great Ormond Street Hospital.

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