HAPPY BIRTHDAY – J.M. Barrie, 9 May
James Matthew Barrie’s life was in many ways a very tragic one. His adored older brother died as a boy, leaving the mother totally bereft and young Jamie felt he had to spend his life making up for the loss of a beautiful boy who would never grow old. Barrie was extremely short and suffered from his lack of height. He married, but the marriage was probably never consummated and his wife Mary had an affair and left. And then he became besotted with the four Llewellyn Davies boys and it was for them that he wrote Peter Pan. When their parents died tragically young, Barrie took over as guardian of the boys. One died in the war, and then his favourite, Michael, drowned in what was probably suicide.
Yet J.M. Barrie enjoyed phenomenal popularity with his plays (including Peter Pan, Quality Street, The Admirable Crichton), novels, memoirs, articles and stories. He was very rich, was elected to many important positions, sold his works in large numbers, but he never found happiness in his personal life. The book J.M. Barrie and the Lost Boys by Andrew Birkin is fascinating – it has also been turned into a TV docudrama.
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