J M Barrie Biography & Facts
Sir James Matthew Barrie, 1st Baronet, (; 9 May 1860 – 19 June 1937) was a Scottish novelist and playwright, best remembered as the creator of Peter Pan. He was born and educated in Scotland and then 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 (first included in Barrie's 1902 adult novel The Little White Bird), then to write Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up, a 1904 West End "fairy play" about an ageless boy and an ordinary girl named Wendy who have adventures in the fantasy setting of Neverland.
Although he continued to write successfully, Peter Pan overshadowed his other work, and is credited with popularising the name Wendy. Barrie unofficially adopted the Davies boys following the deaths of their parents. Barrie was made a baronet by George V on 14 June 1913, and a member of the Order of Merit in the 1922 New Year Honours. Before his death, he gave the rights to the Peter Pan works to Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London, which continues to benefit from them.
Childhood and adolescence
James Matthew Barrie was born in Kirriemuir, Angus, to a conservative Calvinist family. His father David Barrie was a modestly successful weaver. His mother Margaret Ogilvy assumed her deceased mother's household responsibilities at the age of eight. Barrie was the ninth child of ten (two of whom died before he was born), all of whom were schooled in at least the three Rs in preparation for possible professional careers. He was a small child and drew attention to himself with storytelling. He grew to only 5 ft 31⁄2 in. (161 cm) according to his 1934 passport.When James Barrie was six years old, his elder brother David (their mother's favourite) died in an ice-skating accident on the day before his 14th birthday. This left his mother devastated, and Barrie tried to fill David's place in his mother's attentions, even wearing David's clothes and whistling in the manner that he did. One time, Barrie entered her room and heard her say, "Is that you?" "I thought it was the dead boy she was speaking to", wrote Barrie in his biographical account of his mother Margaret Ogilvy (1896) "and I said in a little lonely voice, 'No, it's no' him, it's just me.'" Barrie's mother found comfort in the fact that her dead son would remain a boy forever, never to grow up and leave her. Eventually, Barrie and his mother entertained each other with stories of her brief childhood and books such as Robinson Crusoe, works by fellow Scotsman Walter Scott, and The Pilgrim's Progress.At the age of eight, Barrie was sent to the Glasgow Academy in the care of his eldest siblings Alexander and Mary Ann, who taught at the school. When he was 10, he returned home and continued his education at the Forfar Academy. At 14, he left home for Dumfries Academy, again under the watch of Alexander and Mary Ann. He became a voracious reader, and was fond of penny dreadfuls and the works of Robert Michael Ballantyne and James Fenimore Cooper. At Dumfries, he and his friends spent time in the garden of Moat Brae house, playing pirates "in a sort of Odyssey that was long afterwards to become the play of Peter Pan". They formed a drama club, producing his first play Bandelero the Bandit, which provoked a minor controversy following a scathing moral denunciation from a clergyman on the school's governing board.
Barrie knew that he wished to follow a career as an author. However, his family attempted to persuade him to choose a profession such as the ministry. With advice from Alexander, he was able to work out a compromise: he would attend a university, but would study literature. Barrie enrolled at the University of Edinburgh where he wrote drama reviews for the Edinburgh Evening Courant. He graduated and obtained an M.A. on 21 April 1882.Following a job advertisement found by his sister in The Scotsman, he worked for a year and a half as a staff journalist on the Nottingham Journal. Back in Kirriemuir, he submitted a piece to the St. James's Gazette, a London newspaper, using his mother's stories about the town where she grew up (renamed "Thrums"). The editor "liked that Scotch thing" so well that Barrie ended up writing a series of these stories. They served as the basis for his first novels: Auld Licht Idylls (1888), A Window in Thrums (1890), and The Little Minister (1891).
The stories depicted the "Auld Lichts", a strict religious sect to which his grandfather had once belonged. Modern literary criticism of these early works has been unfavourable, tending to disparage them as sentimental and nostalgic depictions of a parochial Scotland, far from the realities of the industrialised nineteenth century, seen as characteristic of what became known as the Kailyard School. Despite, or perhaps because of, this, they were popular enough at the time to establish Barrie as a successful writer. Following that success, he published Better Dead (1888) privately and at his own expense, but it failed to sell. His two "Tommy" novels, Sentimental Tommy (1896) and Tommy and Grizel (1900), were about a boy and young man who clings to childish fantasy, with an unhappy ending. The English novelist George Gissing read the former in November 1896 and wrote that he "thoroughly dislike[d it]".Meanwhile, Barrie's attention turned increasingly to works for the theatre, beginning with a biography of Richard Savage, written by Barrie and H. B. Marriott Watson; it was performed only once and critically panned. He immediately followed this with Ibsen's Ghost, or Toole Up-to-Date (1891), a parody of Henrik Ibsen's dramas Hedda Gabler and Ghosts. Ghosts had been unlicensed in the UK until 1914, but had created a sensation at the time from a single "club" performance.
The production of Ibsen's Ghost at Toole's Theatre in London was seen by William Archer, the translator of Ibsen's works into English. Apparently comfortable with the parody, he enjoyed the humour of the play and recommended it to others. Barrie's third play Walker, London (1892) resulted in his being introduced to a young actress named Mary Ansell. He proposed to her and they were married on 9 July 1894. Barrie bought her a Saint Bernard puppy, who played a part in the 1902 novel The Little White Bird. He used Ansell's first name for many characters in his novels. Barrie also authored Jane Annie, a comic opera for Richard D'Oyly Carte (1893), which failed; he persuaded Arthur Conan Doyle to revise and finish it for him.
In 1901 and 1902, he had back-to-back successes; Quality Street was about a respectable, responsible old maid who poses as her own flirtatious niece to try to win the attention of a former suitor returned from the war. The Admirable Crichton was a critically acclaimed social commentary with elaborate staging, about an aristocratic family and their household servants .... Discover the J M Barrie popular books. Find the top 100 most popular J M Barrie books.