Born in 1860, James Matthew Barrie was last of nine children, the youngest son, of David Barrie and Margaret Ogilvy, in memory of whom he published a memoir of the title Margaret Ogilvy in 1896. After earning his master of arts in English literature from Edinburgh University, he pursued a career in writing, taking jobs as an editor for newspapers, working as a journalist and writing drama reviews around 1885. He had a love for theater and first successfully published his own play (Walker, London) in 1892. A couple of years after this success, he married the actress Mary Ansell, who played a leading role in the performance of the latter play; however, they divorced in 1909. In 1897, he became an acquaintance of the Llewelyn Davies family, the sons of which played with Barrie often (as if they were in a play) and were the source of inspiration for his play Peter Pan; or, The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up, published in 1901. The boys were George, John (“Jack”), Peter, Michael, and Nicholas, all names adapted into his Peter Pan play and novels. Barrie eventually adopted these boys after their mother and father died. George, the oldest, died during World War I, and Michael, the fourth of the five boys, drowned along with his friend Rupert Buxton while swimming together. Michael’s death particularly affected Barrie, who wrote that “what happened was in a way the end of me” (Birkin 295).
The Peter Pan we are familiar with today underwent many publications under different titles prior to 1911. In 1902, the novel was published as The Little White Bird, which depicts Peter’s early life as an infant. Six chapters were selected from this version and published as part of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. The story was expanded upon, and in 1911, he published the novel Peter and Wendy, a title now simplified to Peter Pan.
Birkin, Andrew. J. M. Barrie and the Lost Boys: The real story behind Peter Pan. n.p.: Yale University, 2003. Print.
JMBarrie.co.uk. Laurentic Wave Machine, n.d. Web. 23 April 2014.
Keeling, Anne E. Great Britain and Her Queen. Project Gutenberg. n.p., 3 Aug. 2004. HTML. 23 April 2014.