J M Barrie, who wrote Peter Pan, was born in Kirriemuir, Angus, in 1860. Characters including Peter, Wendy, Tinkerbell, Captain Hook and the Lost Boys have delighted generations of adults and children.
The story of the boy who never grew up has had many versions – printed, stage and screen. Barrie wrote Peter Pan as both a book and a play. In 1929 he gave copyright to Great Ormand Street Hospital for children in London, giving them a unique fundraising tool.
Barrie’s story – an epic of imagination – lends itself well to the big screen. Peter Pan has also been staged as a musical and a ballet. Films include a silent movie made in 1924, a 1953 Walt Disney animation and a modern 2003 film version directed by P J Hogan.
Peter Pan tells the story of a boy who lives in Neverland (the name Michael Jackson chose for his home), where he will never mature to adulthood. Whilst the story takes his name, it is as much if not more about Wendy Darling, who he spirits away to a land that time forgot. The story works on several levels – as an adventure, as a love story, as an exploration of the reality and imagination of childhood.
The National Theatre of Scotland staged a new version of Peter Pan in 2010, the 150th anniversary of Barrie’s birth. This production moved the home of the Darling family from London to Edinburgh, dressed Captain Hook in a kilt and portrayed Tinkerbell as a ball of fire.
Steven Spielberg’s 2001 film Hook focuses on a Peter who has grown up and is living a successful corporate life when his children are kidnapped by Captain Hook; the cast includes a string of eminent actors and actresses including Robin Williams, Julia Roberts, Dustin Hoffman, Bob Hoskins and Maggie Smith.
Even people who have not read the book, seen the play or one of the many films associated with this character may well have come across Peter Pan’s bronze statue in Kensington Gardens in London. Barrie commissioned George Frampton to make the statue, based on photos he had taken of a young boy wearing a Peter Pan costume. The statue stands at a spot mentioned in the first Peter Pan story, a memorial to the boy who never grew up.
If you have not read the Peter Pan story, for yourself or for your children, I would recommend it as an adventure, a love story and a study of human nature. This version has an introduction by Anne McCaffrey, an author whose work I respect and admire:
The Peter Pan 2003 film and Hook are available on DVD - see links below:
Peter Pan [DVD]  amazon.co.uk
Peter Pan 2003 amazon.com
Hook [DVD]  amazon.co.uk