Sunday, May 09, 2010

Google celebrate the 150th anniversary of JM Barrie's birth

Google used the Doodle above to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of the originator of Peter Pan the boy who never grew up. Many other organisations joined in on the celebrations [link]
with 10 facts about the author:


1 – According to his passport he was a short man of only 5 feet 3 and a half inches.
2 – He was the ninth of ten children and when he was 6 one of his brothers died in an ice-skating accident. His mother was so distraught that Barrie tried to take his place, even wearing his brother’s clothes and whistling like him.
3 – Although he wanted to be an author his family wanted him to become a minister.
4 – He would play ‘pirates’ in the gardens of Moat Brae house with his friends, later depicted in scenes of Peter Pan.
5 – Until he wrote Peter Pan, the girls name Wendy, had hardly been heard of.
6 – Barrie made known in 1929 that the copyright of his most popular work Peter Pan, should be given to the Great Ormond Street children’s hospital in London.
7 – He had many famous friends, among them H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw. One of his closest friends was Robert Falcon Scott (Captain Scott of the Antarctic), who actually wrote to Barrie in his final hours at the South Pole before he died.
8 – He was married although it was reportedly unconsummated and ended in divorce. He never had children of his own.
9 – In 1912 a statue of Peter Pan was erected in Kensington Gardens but Barrie was disappointed in it saying “It doesn’t show the devil in Peter.”
10 – Barrie died in 1937 of pneumonia and is buried at Kirrimuir.

1. His full name was James Matthew Barrie.

2. He was born in 1860 in Kirriemuir, Scotland, the ninth of 10 children. Two of his siblings had died before he was born. His birthplace is now a National Trust museum.

3. When Barrie was six, his brother David died just before his 14th birthday in a skating accident. To try to comfort his devastated mum, James wore his brother's clothes and whistled like him.

4. He wanted to be a writer but was persuaded by his family to go to Edinburgh University. He wrote drama reviews for a local newspaper and went on to spend 18 months working as a journalist in Nottingham.

5. Barrie established himself as an author with novels about Scotland based on pieces he had written for a London newspaper, inspired by his mother's stories about Kirriemuir.

6. He married actress Mary Ansell in 1894, having met her when she appeared in his play Walker, London. They divorced in 1909 after her affair with another playwright and author, Gilbert Cannan. Despite his marriage, Barrie had a close relationship with Sylvia Llewellyn Davies, whose five boys George, John (Jack), Peter, Michael and Nicholas (Nico) were a major inspiration for Peter Pan's Lost Boys. After the death of Sylvia's husband Arthur, 'Uncle Jim' supported the boys financially and later became one of their guardians when Sylvia also died.

7. Barrie's most famous creation, Peter Pan, first appeared in his 1902 novel The Little White Bird. Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up, was first performed in London in 1904. It was transformed into the novel Peter and Wendy, published in 1911. The royalties from the Peter Pan series were assigned by Barrie to Great Ormond Street Hospital from 1929.

8. He was friends with Sherlock Holmes writer Arthur Conan Doyle, asking him to revise and finish his attempted comic opera Jane Annie. Robert Louis Stevenson, based in Samoa at the time, was a penpal, George Bernard Shaw a neighbour, Thomas Hardy an acquaintance, and HG Wells a friend, the science fiction writer trying to help Barrie as his marriage fell apart. Conan Doyle, Wells and Barrie played cricket together for the Allahakbarries, a team founded by Barrie. A friend of Captain Scott, he was one of the seven people Scott wrote letters to as his death approached on his South Pole expedition.

9. He was involved in the 1909 and 1911 attempts by playwrights to challenge the Lord Chamberlain's censorship of the theatre, but went on to be made a baronet - becoming Sir James Matthew Barrie, 1st Baronet - in 1913.

10. He died of pneumonia in 1937, leaving his estate (except Peter Pan) to his secretary Cynthia Asquith.

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