Second star to the right and keep on flying
A celebration of Peter Pan and the du Maurier family
Last Christmas heralded the 99th anniversary of the much-loved children's seasonal classic Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Would Not Grow Up, which was first performed on December 27th 1904 at the Duke of York Theatre, London. Written by the Scottish playwright and novelist JM Barrie (1860-1937), it was later adapted into the novel Peter Pan and Wendy (1911), and has been the source of countless film and stage adaptations ever since.
The 'Lost Boys' and the du Maurier connection
< These are links to larger images.
All images used by kind permission of the Chichester Partnership, Samuel French Ltd., London on behalf of the Estate of J.M. Barrie, and Exeter University Library (Special Collections), copyright © 2003. Any use of these images requires the permission of the copyright holder.
The so-called 'Lost Boys' in Peter Pan were based by Barrie on the children of Arthur and Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, whom he met for the first time in Kensington Gardens in London. Following the tragic early deaths of both parents, Barrie became the unofficial guardian of the children. The story of how Barrie came to write Peter Pan is portrayed in the film Finding Neverland, 2004.
Du Maurier family papers of the University of Exeter
Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (1867-1910), mother of the 'Lost Boys', hailed from a distinguished and multi-talented family, being the daughter of the Punch illustrator and novelist George du Maurier, elder sister of the actor Gerald du Maurier, and aunt of the writer Daphne du Maurier. The Special Collections at the University of Exeter Library holds three collections of du Maurier papers, the most comprehensive in the UK.
Literary legacy of Daphne du Maurier
Two of the du Maurier collections focus on the extraordinary literacy legacy of Daphne du Maurier, who is best loved for her novels Rebecca, Jamaica Inn, and My Cousin Rachel. Beginning her writing career in 1931 with the publication of The Loving Spirit, she used a number of genres throughout her life, including historical novels and biographies. Keenly interested in the history of her own family, she published works on her grandfather George du Maurier and her father Gerald du Maurier, as well as on her ancestor Mary Anne Clarke who was a mistress of the Duke of York in the 18th century. Her short story "The Birds" and her bestselling novel Rebecca were both immortalised as films by Alfred Hitchcock.
Du Maurier dynasty
The Du Maurier Family Papers contains more literary papers of Daphne du Maurier, including many research notes for her historical novels. Also included are some papers of her writer sister Angela, as well as scrapbooks and other materials relating to the long and illustrious career of her actor father Gerald du Maurier. Jumping to fame in his performance in J.M. Barrie's Admirable Crichton in 1902, he later became the first actor to play Captain Hook and Mr. Darling in the first performance of Barrie's Peter Pan in 1904. Also represented in the collection are the drawing portfolios of George du Maurier, who illustrated for Punch for many years, and who illustrated many of the works of Thomas Hardy, Elizabeth Gaskell and Wilkie Collins. His voluminous correspondence with other family members is also represented, including letters from the young Sylvia du Maurier and her siblings.
Gem of the collections: the Sylvia Photograph Album
The gem of the collection is without a doubt the photograph album belonging to Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (née du Maurier), a renowned beauty and socialite of her day. This album contains many beautiful black and white family photographs, including some taken by Barrie himself. Most of these photographs feature images of Sylvia's children who later became fictionalised as the 'Lost Boys', often photographed with their mother, but also appearing in the company of their mentor Barrie.
- C. Berry, University of Exeter.
All three of the University of Exeter's du Maurier collections contain the papers of Daphne du Maurier:
- Du Maurier family: family and literary papers, 1816-1988 [EUL 207]
- Daphne du Maurier: mainly literary typescripts and manuscripts, including those of Rebecca and Jamaica Inn [EUL MS 144]
- Photos' literary links to JM Barrie: BBC news item about Sylvia's album
- Captain Hook's first adventure: Guardian newspaper item about Sylvia's album
- Daphne du Maurier Festival of Arts & Literature: annual event in Fowey, Cornwall
- Fowey (Tourist Information, Fowey, Cornwall)
- BBC: Books: Daphne Du Maurier Rebecca was voted number 14 of the "nation's best loved books" in the Big Read
- Great Ormond Street Hospital: Barrie donated copyright of Peter Pan to the children's hospital in 1929
- Theatre Museum (V&A Museum): original programmes, photographs and press-cuttings for the premiere of Peter Pan, and for later productions
- Finding Neverland: Internet Movie Database entry about the film
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