Yup! As a child I was hooked on Barrie’s work on, among other things, Peter Pan. Then, as part of a late spring visit to my favorite city London in the last century, I couldn’t resist taking a leisurely walk in Kensington Gardens and meeting face to face with his abiding statue:
The author had got it installed through the efforts of another stalwart, Sir George Frampton, and the mini-masterpiece came to fruition on May Day: The general public was alerted to its miraculous appearance seemingly out of nowhere in the middle of the metropolis by Barrie’s announcement in the Times of London 105 years ago that read as follows:
“There is a surprise in store for the children who go to Kensington Gardens to feed the ducks in the Serpentine this morning. Down by the little bay on the south-western side of the tail of the Serpentine they will find a May-day gift by Mr J.M. Barrie, a figure of Peter Pan blowing his pipe on the stump of a tree, with fairies and mice and squirrels all around. It is the work of Sir George Frampton, and the bronze figure of the boy who would never grow up is delightfully conceived.”
Sir James Matthew Barrie, 1st Baronet, OM (9 May 1860 – 19 June 1937) was a Scottish novelist and playwright, best remembered today as the creator of Peter Pan. He shared the same birthday, May the 9th, as mine and that probably endeared me to his writings.
He was born and educated in Scotland but moved to London, where he wrote a number of successful novels and plays. There he met the Llewelyn Davies boys, who inspired him to write about a baby boy who has magical adventures in Kensington Gardens (included in The Little White Bird), then to write Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, a “fairy play” about an ageless boy and an ordinary girl named Wendy who have adventures in the fantasy setting of Neverland.
References: Wikipedia; my library of J.M. Barrie’s works.
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