The History of Peter Pan

By: Avi Kapadia

First Sight

Peter Pan was first seen in "The Little White Bird", a 1902 adult novel written by James Mathew Barrie. Peter Pan's own play came later in 1904, as "The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up". This play was very popular and well remarked and was played in theaters for nine more years. Since the play was so popular, James Matthew Barrie decided to turn it into a novel.

First Publication and Basis

The original version of Peter Pan was first published in 1911, as "Peter and Wendy". This novel version was also known as "Peter Pan or "The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up". J. M. Barrie specifically never really described Peter or how he looked like, leaving it up how the reader would picture Peter with his amusable personality. He stated that he got the idea for the play off of his friends, the Davie family. He also stated Peter Pan was founded based off Barrie's little brother, who died before he turned 14 in an ice skating accident. He said that his parents and himself always though of his brother forever a child, therefore giving Barrie the idea of "The Boy who Wouldn't Grow Up".

Disney and Other Modern Versions

An animated version of Peter Pan was produced by Disney in the year 1953. Walt Disney stated that Peter Pan was one of his favorite stories and it later became the the 14th film in the Walt Disney Animated classics series. The plot is very similar to the the classic version, but a few elements were changed in order to make the story a little more modern. For example, Hook captures the Darlings and the Lost Boys and leaves Peter Pan with a time bomb, rather than not capturing him at all like in the original version. Overall, the Disney version is definitely less violent but still captures the unique and well remarked elements of the classic version. Later, in 2003, a fantasy film titled "Peter Pan" was released by Universal Pictures. The plot is, again, very similar to the original, and has a much more modern twist just like the Disney version did. It is also much less violent and has a lot more magic.

About Barrie

James Matthew Barrie (J. M. Barrie) was a Scottish novelist and playwright. He is known best for his best published and recognized work, "Peter Pan". He was born on May 9th, in 1860, and graduated from Edinburgh University in 1882 to become a journalist. He had mild success in fiction, and he moved on to write plays. He wrote "Walker London", which was popular and well received, as his first play. He would later write the first "Peter Pan" in 1904, inspired by his friendship with the Davie family. This play was very well remarked and was extremely popular in the theaters of London and was very successful. J. M. Barrie died on June 17th, in 1937. His death was not the end of Peter Pan, however; it inspired many other great films made over the years.


1. Barrie, J. M., and Nora S. Unwin. Peter Pan. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1950. Print.

2. "J.M. Barrie." A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 11 May 2016.

3. "The History of Peter Pan." The History of Peter Pan. Warner Bros, n.d. Web. 11 May 2016.

4. "The Surprisingly Morbid Origins of Peter Pan." The Surprisingly Morbid Origins of Peter Pan. The Week, 04 Dec. 2014. Web. 11 May 2016.

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