The Real-Life Tragedy Behind Peter Pan

by Rachel Baker on May 16, 2015

I found this article this morning sifting through my news. While the article was inspired by the Welsh National Opera’s opening of Peter Pan, its an article about the full story of Peter Pan, and the tragic meaning behind the otherwise childhood story we all know and love.

In our household, we are immersed in Willie Wonka right now, as one of the kids has a role in the musical. I’ve always loved the Johnny Depp version of the movie, because I felt it was more true to the actually story. While Gene Wilder seemed like a closet pedophile, Depp seemed like a serious disturbed man who threw himself into his work to escape the abandonment he felt from his father. I also really enjoyed Finding Neverland, which seems an interesting take on the man who wrote Peter Pan, rather than the story itself. I can’t really help but see some of the more tragic parts of the Finding Neverland story in the explanations in the article below.

Here’s the inspiration:The real-life tragedy behind Peter Pan

When I was asked by the composer Richard Ayres to write a libretto of Peter Pan, I wasn’t at all sure I wanted to. As a child, I’d enjoyed the story but Wendy seemed so prim while Peter reminded me of my big brother, who decided what games we played and always knew best. What gripped me was Neverland, the world built out of whatever comes to hand, be it a pirate hat or an angry father.

I changed my mind when I started to think about why the Darling children – Wendy, Michael and John – might be so eager to escape home into this fantasy world, why they would follow a stranger out the window, and what it means not to grow up.

The story was so familiar to me that I thought I knew it. I soon discovered I didn’t. The character of Peter Pan erupted out of James Matthew Barrie’s unsettling adult novel, The Little White Bird, of 1902.

Two years later came the play that made the story famous. Barrie then wrote a version in fiction, Peter and Wendy (1911), which starts by describing the marriage of Mr and Mrs Darling.

This article was written by: Rachel Baker – Click to follow on Twitter; or you can follow her at The Crafty Veteran on Bloglovin

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