John, called Jamie, Barrie was born in 1860 in a small town in Scotland, the last of seven children. He was lucky enough to have a mother who read to her children nightly, books she would borrow from the library for a penny a day. If they ran out of stories to read, eight year old John would hurry to his room and write his own. At the insistence of his parents, he attended Edinburgh University and fell in love with the theater and writing.
He was lucky enough to become a moderately famous play write, and did marry an actress in one of his plays. He was happiest though telling stories to young children he met in the parks and watching them play. One such family was the Llewelyn Davies family who had five young boys. The two families became good friends and Jamie often entertained the boys by creating haunted groves, wrecked islands and black lagoons on his property. In 1904, he wrote his masterpiece: Peter Pan. It used all the games the boys had played: pirates, Indians, fairies, and crocodiles. He later wrote to the boys that Peter Pan was a character 'I made by rubbing the five of you together.' When the play opened, Peter's agent (and financial backer) insisted the part of Peter be played by a female, as it has ever since.
Three years after the opening of Peter Pan, Mr. Llewelyn Davies died and his wife, three years after that. Jamie (or Uncle Jim) became the boys' legal guardian, his boys until the end When Jamie died, in 1937, he had already gifted the copyright for Peter Pan to Great Ormond Hospital for Sick Children in London, where any money made from the book, play or associated sales still goes.
Date read: 1/18/2012