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1001 peterpan
Added on 02nd July 2020

Author J.M Barrie
Play first performed 1904, Duke of York Theatre

Family Magic

The story of the boy who never grew up.


Peter Pan flies Wendy and her brothers to Neverland where the Lost Boys adopt Wendy as their mother. They meet fairies, battle with pirates and have great adventures until Wendy starts to miss home.

Why we chose it

A classic story that is still loved for its magical adventures – and its belief in fairies. In our 26 Characters exhibition Cressida Cowell was photographed as Peter Pan, choosing it because, like her own stories, Peter Pan is full of excitement, danger, magic and the sense that anything is possible.

Where it came from

When J M Barrie was a child one of his brothers died in skating accident. Their mother comforted herself with the idea that he would remain a boy forever.

Peter Pan first appeared in a novel The Little White Bird written in 1902. J.M. Barrie told stories of Peter Pan to the sons of a friend and in 1904 used the character in a stage play, which was so successful that it was performed annually for the next 10 years with Barrie continuing to work on the script and making changes every year. One addition was the need for fairy dust for flight, a change made after reports of children injuring themselves by jumping off beds and out of windows, trying to fly.

Where it went next

Peter Pan has continued to be performed though not generally using the original JM Barrie script. There have been numerous adaptions and re-workings of the story, including a pantomime version.

In 1911 J.M Barrie turned the story into a novel, originally called Peter and Wendy.

In 1953 Disney released their animated version. It was Disney who dressed Peter Pan in green – a better colour for animation than the browns he wore on stage.

There have been a number of live action films. JM Barrie himself was involved in a 1924 silent movie which used the original script.

JM Barrie gave the rights to Peter Pan to Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Associated stories

In 2006 an official sequel was commissioned by Great Ormond St Hospital – Peter Pan in Scarlet, written by Geraldine McCaughrean. Numerous unofficial sequels, prequels and spin offs also exist

A number of films explore origins, focus on particular characters or seek to find new angles and approaches.

In the museum

Find the Peter Pan miniature world in The Enchanted Library.

Added on 02nd July 2020

Author J.M Barrie
Play first performed 1904, Duke of York Theatre

Family Magic