Author Topic: Piers Dudgeon and "Captivated"  (Read 23808 times)

andrew

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Piers Dudgeon and "Captivated"
« on: October 03, 2009, 02:10:47 PM »
I have sent the following letter to Chatto & Windus, publishers of Piers Dudgeon's ridiculous book:

Dear Sirs,

Captivated, by Piers Dudgeon

I have only just caught up with this book, which you published last year. Back in 2005, Piers Dudgeon contacted me, asking for my help in a book he was writing about J M Barrie and the du Mauriers. I told him that everything I had to offer in the way of research was on my website, www.jmbarrie.co.uk, and that he was free to use the extensive database, providing he gave due credit. This he did in his acknowledgements, although I had little idea that he would quote (not to mention misquote) from my material quite so extensively.

On page 23, Dudgeon writes that I offered $10,000 to anyone who could prove that Barrie was a paedophile, in response to having read an article by Alison Lurie in the New York Times Review of Books on 6 February 1975. He goes on to say that this was “possibly an over- reaction, as Lurie had suggested not sexual abuse but that, as the boys grew older, they had become ‘embarrassed’ by ‘this odd little man who looked like an aged child.’” This is typical of Dudgeon’s sloppy research. My offer (to donate $10K to GOSH, not to the prover) was in response to an article in the New York Post in 2004, claiming that Barrie was a paedophile. It was Nico, not me, who was so incensed by Alison Lurie’s “bollox” – which Dudgeon must have read for himself since it comes from one of Nico’s letters to me on my website, from which he quotes so freely. I would ask him/you to kindly correct this in future editions of the book.

I would also ask you to correct the source of several of the illustrations. The photograph of Michael dressed as Peter Pan is not to be found in the “du Maurier Archive, Special Collections, University of Exeter” (as credited on page viii), nor the photo of “his eldest brother George” next to it (the photo is in fact of Michael, not George at all); nor indeed is the photo of “Jim Barrie with his St Bernard” from Exeter – all three have either been ripped from my book or taken from the database on my website. Having bought the originals from Nico in 1979, I donated them to GOSH in 2004, to whom a reproduction fee should have been paid.

Piers Dudgeon is of course entitled to his own opinion, but his book is so full of errors, distortions, half-truths, and his own opinion passed off as fact, that I personally regard it as worthless.

Sincerely,


Andrew Birkin
« Last Edit: October 03, 2009, 05:25:19 PM by Andrew »

Robert Greenham

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Re: Piers Dudgeon and "Captivated"
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2009, 04:13:59 PM »
Very well said, Andrew. Let's hope Chatto & Windus heed your authoritative points made so  firmly but politely.

For anyone encountering this issue within the past year or so, and who may not have read early reviews of Captivated, I quote below the last paragraph of Frances Wilson's review in The Sunday Times in which she referred to the book as "wonderfully batty":

"It was Barrie's belief, Dudgeon says, that “people are pegs on which we hang our emotions”. The same might be said of Dudgeon's own approach to biography: people are pegs on which to hang our theories. With its cast of one- dimensional characters and its theme of good v evil, Captivated is more pantomime than scholarship, but while few will agree with Dudgeon's findings, I defy you not to be...captivated."

You can still read Frances Wilson's review here:

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/non-fiction/article4263887.ece

andrew

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Re: Piers Dudgeon and "Captivated"
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2009, 12:53:59 PM »
I sometimes regret ever having spotted Barrie's mistranscription of Sylvia's Will, since it has given writers like Dudgeon ammunition on which to hang their own dubious theories. For those who don't know the background, here is the salient part from Sylvia's Will, as quoted by me in my book:

"I would like everything to go on as far as possible as it has been lately. Twenty-three [Campden Hill Square] to be kept up for the dear boys with Mary (whom I trust with my whole heart) looking after them.

At any time I know friends who love them will come & stay sometimes - one at a time - & see them & be with them for a little just as if I was there. What I wd like wd be if Jenny wd come to Mary & that the two together would be looking after the boys & the house & helping each other. And it would be so nice for Mary.

I would like Mama & J.M.B. & Guy & Crompton to be trustees & guardians to the boys & that Mary & Margaret would give their dear advice & care [...] I would also like the advice of dear Hugh Macnaghten, [...] J.M.B. I know will do everything in his power to help our boys - to advise, to comfort, to sympathise in all their joys & sorrows.

At present my Jack is going into the Navy - if he should grow to dislike it and if there was anything else, I know he (J.M.B.) would do all that was best. I want all the boys to treat him (& their uncles) with absolute confidence & straightforwardness & talk to him about everything. I know he will understand always & be loving & patient. I hope from my soul that they will be happy & lead good lives & be as much as possible like their most beloved father & I also hope that if they marry they will be good & tender husbands & fathers & be with their wives as happy as he & I were [...] They have all been the most splendid & beloved & affectionate & open sons & I know they will go on being affectionate brothers & help each other all they can in the years to come. I do not want my Michael to be pressed at all at work - he is at present not strong but very keen & intelligent: great care must be taken not to overwork him. Mary understands & of course J.M.B. knows & will be careful & watch."


When Sylvia's second Will was found several months after her death, Barrie made a careful, hand-written copy and sent it to Emma du Maurier, adding: "The above is an exact copy, including the words `Sylvia's Will', of paper found by me at 23 Campden Hill Square [...] It is undated, but I do not doubt it to be the will written by her at Ashton, Exmoor, a few days before her death, of which all she told me was `I thought I was dying and I began to write a will.'" Part of the second paragraph, as transcribed by Barrie, read: "What I would like would be if Jimmy would come to Mary, and that the two together would be looking after the boys and the house and helping each other. And it would be nice for Mary." In fact Sylvia had not written "Jimmy" but "Jenny" - Mary Hodgson's sister. The mistranscription was no doubt unintentional, although the word "Jenny" is clear enough, and Barrie can have had no illusions that his presence at Campden Hill Square would be "nice for Mary".

Dudgeon of course creates a veritable mountain out of this molehill, citing it as evidence that "Barrie's strategy was predatory", not just once (pages 195, 196 and 197) but again - as a full page illustration lifted from my book - where he repeats his allegation that "Barrie wilfully" changed the names and "in this way, he made himself guardian of Sylvia's five sons."  Absolute rubbish! If Dudgeon had troubled himself to read the very next paragraph of Sylvia's Will, he would have seen that Sylvia stated clearly and unambiguously, "I would like Mama & J.M.B. & Guy & Crompton to be trustees & guardians to the boys."  Changing 'Jenny' to 'Jimmy' changed nothing!

[Note: both versions of the Will can be viewed in the database]


« Last Edit: October 05, 2009, 10:44:42 PM by Andrew »

ecb

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Re: Piers Dudgeon and "Captivated"
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2009, 05:09:45 PM »
I'm so glad you wrote them that letter, Andrew.  I hope you get a reply.

I have always been struck by the fact that people latch onto the Jenny-Jimmy transcription error as though that meant that Sylvia didn't want Barrie in the boys' lives.  As you say merely reading on on the will would show that she very much thought of him as a major actor in the care of her children after her death.

After all Jenny and Mary Hodgson by themselves could hardly have afforded to keep 23 Camden Hill Square, to say nothing of educating 5 boys!

tcarroll

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Re: Piers Dudgeon and "Captivated"
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2009, 08:36:58 PM »
I totally agree.  Sylvia wanted Mr. Barrie to be part of the boys lives from the first time they met!  I think it would be foolish to think she wanted otherwise after her death. He was a pure champion to that family as far as I'm concerned, and he never, ever tried to replace their parents, and always honored their memory.

andrew

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Re: Piers Dudgeon and "Captivated"
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2009, 06:12:28 PM »
This from Nico's daughter Laura: " I personally think Dudgeon is more or less raving mad and lives in a world of wildest fantasy!"

ecb

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Re: Piers Dudgeon and "Captivated"
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2009, 07:33:50 PM »
Quote
This from Nico's daughter Laura: " I personally think Dudgeon is more or less raving mad and lives in a world of wildest fantasy!"

Sounds like Laura has a good portion of her father's obvious common sense! ;D

Lesley

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Re: Piers Dudgeon and "Captivated"
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2009, 07:11:03 AM »
apparently. I think living in a world of fantasy can be good or bad. Dud (;D) is DEFINITELY living in the bad world of wildest fantasy. Or at least the aftermath is awful...
And the being raving mad can be positive or negative as well. and well, dud IS raving mad. There is no better description.

TheWendybird

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Re: Piers Dudgeon and "Captivated"
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2009, 10:16:00 PM »
I don't understand why untrue gossip and hearsay is allowed to be printed as true at all.....if the news did this wouldn't they get in trouble? I mean aside from the entertainment shows and all..i mean the REAL news...

AlexanderDavid

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Re: Piers Dudgeon and "Captivated"
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2009, 11:46:37 PM »
I don't understand why untrue gossip and hearsay is allowed to be printed as true at all.....if the news did this wouldn't they get in trouble? I mean aside from the entertainment shows and all..i mean the REAL news...

Freedom of the press.  :P

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TheWendybird

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Re: Piers Dudgeon and "Captivated"
« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2009, 03:28:42 AM »
I don't understand why untrue gossip and hearsay is allowed to be printed as true at all.....if the news did this wouldn't they get in trouble? I mean aside from the entertainment shows and all..i mean the REAL news...

Freedom of the press.  :P

Labels are like permanent marker stains--not a part of you, but SO, SO hard to rub clean without doing damage to yourself.

"Out, damned spot!"

Haha Lady Macbeth=awesome. I love that play.

tcarroll

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Re: Piers Dudgeon and "Captivated"
« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2009, 02:32:43 PM »
This case is proof of the damage the wrong press can do.  After all these years, people still believe lies about Mr. Barrie. I think it's so important that Andrew wrote the book and that the mini series was made.  Maybe it made some people see what kind of man Mr. Barrie really was.

Peter Pan

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Re: Piers Dudgeon and "Captivated"
« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2009, 03:50:40 PM »
I don't understand why untrue gossip and hearsay is allowed to be printed as true at all.....if the news did this wouldn't they get in trouble? I mean aside from the entertainment shows and all..i mean the REAL news...

Freedom of the press.  :P

Labels are like permanent marker stains--not a part of you, but SO, SO hard to rub clean without doing damage to yourself.

"Out, damned spot!"

Freedom of the Press should've been illegalized long ago. That legal "right" was established when the Press had a conscience and regulated itself. Now that all morality has gone out the window, the Press has gone from 'delivering information' to 'speculating on what that information means and telling the people what and how to think.' This should probably be deemed a crime.

andrew

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Re: Piers Dudgeon and "Captivated"
« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2009, 04:59:52 PM »
Well Napoleon would certainly have agreed with you at one time - he introduced state censorship in 1801 to counter what he saw as a torrent of lies about himself and his policies, most of them originating from his royalist enemies. But ultimately he considered censoring the press to have been one of his biggest mistakes, and abolished it in 1815, a few months before Waterloo.  Of course even our so-called free press is insidiously censored - by the advertisers, by the editors, by the proprietors - but in my view, better a "free" press regulated by strong libel laws than a state censored one.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2009, 05:08:34 PM by Andrew »

AlexanderDavid

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Re: Piers Dudgeon and "Captivated"
« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2009, 05:53:02 PM »
Well Napoleon would certainly have agreed with you at one time - he introduced state censorship in 1801 to counter what he saw as a torrent of lies about himself and his policies, most of them originating from his royalist enemies. But ultimately he considered censoring the press to have been one of his biggest mistakes, and abolished it in 1815, a few months before Waterloo.  Of course even our so-called free press is insidiously censored - by the advertisers, by the editors, by the proprietors - but in my view, better a "free" press regulated by strong libel laws than a state censored one.

Amen to that.  I'd rather just ignore what goes into the press than have it censored.  Then what happens when I'M censored?   :-[