Author Topic: Where did Barrie write "Peter Pan"?  (Read 12579 times)


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Where did Barrie write "Peter Pan"?
« on: March 14, 2005, 01:59:17 PM »
I've had a good many enquiries over the years as to where JMB actually put pen to paper on his dream child. The other day Albeburgh was put forward: apparently Conan Doyle's former abode carries one of those cheesy claims, to which I have answered as follows:

I don't know too much about the Barrie/Conan Doyle connection, other than what Mackail tells in his 1941 biography, but I think their relationship mnore or less petered out after their unsuccessful collaboration on the operetta "Jane Annie" in 1892 - long, long before Barrie had started writing Peter Pan.

PP first emerged in print in The Little White Bird (see my book/website for full details!), which Barrie was writing on and off between 1899 and early 1902 (it was published in autumn 1902). During that period Barrie was living at 133 Gloucester Rd while in London, and at Black Lake the rest of the time. It is of course quite possible that he visited Doyle @ Aldeburgh during this period, but I doubt very much that he wrote the six PP chapters there - my guess would be 133 GR.

In 1902 Barrie moved to Leister Corner, opposite the north side of Ken Gdns, and it was there for sure that he wrote the play, starting in the autumn of 1903 and finishing the first draft in March 1904  (he actually wrote it in the stable block at the back of Leinster Corner). The novel "Peter & Wendy" (now published simply as Peter Pan) was written in the spring and summer of 1911, initially @ Leinster Corner, then @ Scourie in Scotland while on a fishing holiday with Michael and Nico (see my book!)

Tthe final "he wrote Peter Pan here" claim can be tenuously argued for the island of Eilean Shona, where Barrie worked on the (unused) Paramount screenplay of Peter Pan in the summer of 1920 ..... but Aldeburgh?????????? I'd lay a few thousand quid against - if I had it to lay in the first place!  But hard evidence might persuade me otherwsie ... is there any?

Well, is there?????

Robert Greenham

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Where did Barrie write "Peter Pan"?
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2005, 09:06:50 AM »
I agree with Andrew on this matter, having read five Barrie biographies (including Andrew's, of course!) and having given interesting matters such as this much thought while researching for my own little book.

Assuming we are talking about the writing of Peter Pan the play: if JMB started work in November 1903, and finished his first draft of the play in March 1904, then I would say all the work on the play up to that point was done at Leinster Corner. I would say most of his writing was done in his study at his London home, where conditions were constant, distractions were few, and where he maintained his library.

In  the autumns of 1893 and 1894, however, when Barrie did not have a permanent home, he did spend weeks at a time working at his sister Maggie's home at Medstead, Hampshire. This included a period of a few weeks within a couple of months of marrying Mary Ansell; they both stayed there in early autumn 1894, and again in December that year, after an intervening few weeks in lodgings in Fowey, Cornwall. At Medstead, Maggie built a study for her brother, but the extent to which it was used later is not known - it has long since served as a bedroom.

From 1895 to 1900 the Barries had a London home only. From 1900 to 1909 Barrie had the occasional use of his wife's leased cottage, Black Lake Cottage. However, his visits there were usually only for entertaining and holidaying. These occurred at times between April and September. He had wanted a study in the pine woods behind the cottage but he never got it. He had a desk in one of the bedrooms there at around the time of Peter Pan's creation. There was a study at Black Lake Cottage but it was not built until sometime after Barrie wrote Peter Pan. (Certainly not built by 1905, and possibly not until around the time the Barries divorced, in 1909, after which Barrie never went there again. But it was certainly built before 1912, and therefore possibly only used by Mary (Barrie) Cannan and her new husband Gilbert Cannan). That study has also long since served as a bedroom, despite the many alterations and 'improvements' to the building during the twentieth century.

However, whereas work done on Peter Pan the play, after March 1904 and up until December 1904, again was probably done at Leinster Corner, I think there is a possibility that some of it may have been done at Black Lake Cottage also. Consider this:

We know that whereas Barrie, as usual, spent August 1904 at Black Lake Cottage, and in fact stayed there through to the end of September that year, unlike the three previous years he did not have the considerable distraction of, or preoccupation with, frequent, if not daily visits from the Davies family and games with the Davies boys. Since 1902, privately, Barrie and his wife led pretty separate existences despite being married and living in the same house. They were both holidaying at Black Lake Cottage for August and September of 1904, but they each did their own thing for most of the time: Mary working in her beloved 'happy' garden, James walking their dog Luath or shut in his room, thinking and writing.

So maybe some of the work on Peter Pan was done at Black Lake Cottage. After all, could the author have put this work to one side for two whole months, when the play was due to open within three months? Somehow, I doubt it. But I guess we will never know.