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The Dark Side of Peter Pan (Hardback)

J. M. Barrie, the Man Who Couldn’t Grow Up

P&S History > Social History

By Olivia Camozzi
Imprint: White Owl
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 32 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781399047555
Published: 30th September 2024

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James Barrie has been marked in recent years as manipulative, perverted and without the ability to love. Having authored the story of Peter Pan, which has been enjoyed by children and adults for over 100 years, many literary critics have been intrigued about where this story epitomising childhood joy and innocence came from. Most will associate Peter Pan with Disney’s colourful version, but the original story that Barrie penned is actually much darker, with a gloomier background in its making.

With humble beginnings from a small town in Scotland, Barrie’s childhood was filled with grief and loss, but also stories and play. He took his passion of storytelling to study English Literature at university before finding himself in the capital for all writers: central London. It was here that he came to meet the Llewelyn Davies family. His involvement with this upper-class family with relatives including Daphne du Maurier are what many say to be the sole inspiration for Peter Pan, and that his integration into the family was primarily with sinister intentions.

Much of his writing reflected his life, including his marriage and the unhappiness that spanned from it, all of which can be found in traces throughout Peter Pan. The Peter that Barrie wrote was not just a boy that didn’t want to grow up, but a being that was neither human nor not human, with complexities that can only be understood if Barrie’s life is also looked into.

This book aims to prove that much of the speculation and accusations surrounding Barrie and his nature have come from a time of misunderstanding, where many psychological terms were not coined and sexuality was a taboo subject. With the latest claims that Barrie was manipulative and perverted, these critics overlooked the likelihood that Barrie was asexual, as well as suffering from Peter Pan Syndrome. With a life littered with loss, it’s clear that Barrie did not go through his life unscathed, but is it fair to mark him as the bad man he’s recently been painted to be, especially after providing one of the most popular stories of all time?

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About Olivia Camozzi

Olivia Camozzi has a BA degree in Creative and Professional Writing and Screenwriting from the University of Worcester, and a MA degree in Writing from the University of Warwick. She currently works as an author liaison and marketing executive for Pen and Sword Books and enjoys reading a range of genres and writing fiction.


Previously, she won the Black Pear Press Prize for Fiction in 2019 and her novella, The Bad Birthdays Club, was published in 2020, and she also released a short story in the Warwick University Anthology 2021: Chateau de la Mort. This is her first delve into writing non-fiction.

J. M. Barrie's birthday and ‘Peter Pan day’

9th May 1860

Sir James Matthew Barrie was born 9 May 1860, he was a Scottish novelist and playwright, best remembered as the creator of Peter Pan. Peter Pan Day happens on May 9th, celebrating the main character in the children's story written by the Scottish writer James Matthew Barrie. Always accompanied by the fairy Bell, Peter Pan lives in Never Land as the leader of the lost boys and opponent of the pirate group, Captain Hook.


View all events View all anniversaries

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