General Chatter, On This Day

The Boy Who Never Grew Up

Peter Pan - The Boy Who Never Grew UpBy Sarah Kneath

The story of Peter Pan and Wendy was originally written as a play by J. M. Barrie and premiered on 27th December 1904, it was later adapted into a novel which was published in 1911.

Barrie was inspired by the Llewelyn-Davies family, who he formed a close friendship with and the narrative of Peter Pan was based on stories and games he’d made up when playing with the Llewelyn-Davies children.

There are so many iconic quotes and moments in this story that still resonate today and many readers will remember them for generations.

A mischievous and cheeky chap; Peter Pan is the boy who never grew up. At night, he would fly to the window of the Darling’s house and listen to the bedtime stories Mary Darling told her children; Wendy, John and Michael.

“All children, except one, grow up”

After a narrow escape one night, Peter loses his shadow and whilst searching for it, he wakes up Wendy. With her help, they manage to reattach it. Peter discovers that Wendy knows lots of wonderful bedtime stories, so he asks her to come with him to Neverland where she can be a mother to the Lost Boys. She agrees and takes her brothers with her. Peter teaches the children how to fly and they set off for the mysterious, far-off island of Neverland.

“Second star on the right and straight on ‘til morning”

Wendy spends a short time recuperating after being nearly killed by Tootles, when he fired a cannon at her thinking she was an eagle. However, it doesn’t take long for the three children to become part of the gang and adopt the Lost Boys lifestyle.

Peter Pan, the Lost Boys and the Darlings then go on many adventures. They head to Mermaid’s Lagoon, where they rescue Tiger Lilly from fearsome pirates, led by the evil Captain Hook. Peter is injured by Hook and left stranded on a rock with the tide rising, he believes he’s going to die.

“To die will be an awfully big adventure”

A friendly bird offers Peter his nest and Peter manages to sail back to his camp.

One day, while Wendy is telling stories to the Lost Boys, she recalls her parents and decides that she wants to take everyone home to live with them in London. Peter, wakes to find that Hook has kidnapped Wendy and the Lost Boys after the fairy Tinker Bell told him what had happened. He quickly tries to take his medicine so Wendy will be happy with him, Tink who knew the medicine had been poisoned by Captain Hook, drinks it instead of Peter. While dying, she tells Peter that she could be saved if all the children in the world believed in fairies. It’s at this moment during the play that Peter address the audience and asks them to clap if they believe in fairies. This moment was often followed by a rapturous applause with many of the audience on their feet and Tinker Bell is revived.

“When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.”

Peter then embarks on his mission to save Wendy and the Lost Boys and encounters the Ticking Crocodile. To stop animals harming him on the way, he adopts the noise made by the crocodile. He boards the ship and searches for his friends, not realising that he is still ticking. Hook, who has always been scared of the crocodile, mistakes Peter for the creature and hides away allowing Peter the chance to rescue his friends.

When Peter reveals himself, he’s then locked in a terrifying battle with Captain Hook. He then kicks Hook into the jaws of the waiting crocodile and wins, taking control of the ship.

“I suppose it’s like the ticking crocodile, isn’t it? Time is chasing after all of us.”

Wendy decides that Neverland is not the place for her, and wants to be reunited with her Mother. Peter is very angry at first and flies ahead to bar the windows, making out that Wendy’s mother has forgotten her. However, upon seeing how grief-stricken Mary Darling is, he regretfully removes them leaving the window open for Wendy and the Lost Boys. Mary Darling adopts all the Lost Boys and offers a place for Peter who refuses as he’s scared that he’ll be captured and they will make him a man. Wendy then says goodbye to Peter.

“You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you. That’s where I’ll be waiting.”

It is these wonderful moments within the story that make it so charming and endearing. It’s the reason the story has been adapted time and time again. Whether in films, TV adaptions, plays or books – I will always remember and always enjoy this story. Let us know your favourite quote in the comments below. 

Is Peter Pan missing from your book collection? No problem! Head on over to the World of Books website to get yourself a copy here. We also have thousands of titles in our children’s fiction category to choose from.

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