Yesterday was the birthday of Sir James Matthew Barrie, 1st Baronet, OM (9 May 1860 – 19 June 1937) better remembered as author J. M. Barrie who created the beloved Peter Pan.
1 ) Barrie always wanted to be an author but his family was against it. His conservative Calvinist family wanted him to enter the ministry and used guilt on him by telling that it what his older brother David, who died two days before his 14th birthday in an accident would have done. Barrie agreed to go to the University of Edinburgh but study literature.
2 ) Barrie’s early novels: Auld Licht Idylls (1888), A Window in Thrums (1890), and The Little Minister (1891) came out to unfavorable criticism but popular success.
3 ) Barrie’s The Little White Bird (serialized in the US, published as a single volume in the UK), marks Peter Pan’s first appearance.
4 ) The original title of Barrie’s most enduring work is Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, originally written as a play in 1904 and a novel in 1911.
5 ) Barrie used the name Wendy for the play’s heroine because Margaret Henley, a young girl who he befriended, called him “fwendy” (friendly). Sadly Margaret died at age five of cerebral meningitis.
6 ) George Bernard Shaw called Peter Pan “ostensibly a holiday entertainment for children but really a play for grown-up people” (he was talking about the play).
7 ) Barrie bequeathed the copyright of all Peter Pan works to the Great Ormond Street Hospital, a children’s hospital in London.
8 ) Even thought J.M. Barrie and fellow Scotsman Robert Louis Stevenson corresponded at length, they never met person to person.
9 ) Barrie founded an amateur cricket team called the Allahakbarries thinking that the Arabic “Allah akbar” means “heaven help us” (it actually means “G-d is great”). Among the players one could find at various times, Arthur Conan Doyle, H. G. Wells, Jerome K. Jerome, G. K. Chesterton, A. A. Milne, Walter Raleigh, A. E. W. Mason, E. V. Lucas, Maurice Hewlett, E. W. Hornung, P. G. Wodehouse, Owen Seaman, Bernard Partridge, Augustine Birrell, Paul du Chaillu, and the son of Alfred Tennyson.
10) Barrie also befriend explorer Robert Falcon Scott. During his final hours at his South Pole expedition, Scott wrote to Barrie asking him to take care of his wife and son (Barrie’s godson). The proud author carried the letter on his person for the rest of his life.
Zohar – Man of la Book