Echoes of the War - 'Since the war broke out his zest for life has become almost terrible''
Publisher: Ministure Masterpieces
Sir James Matthew Barrie, 1st Baronet, OM, was born in Kirriemuir, Angus the ninth of ten children on May 9th, 1860.
From early formative experiences, Barrie knew that he wished to follow a career as an author. His family wished otherwise and sought to persuade him to choose a profession, such as the ministry. The compromise was that he would attend university to study literature at the University of Edinburgh. He graduated with an M.A. on April 21st, 1882.
His first job was as a staff journalist for the Nottingham Journal. The London editor of the St. James's Gazette "liked that Scotch thing" in Barrie’s short stories about his mother’s early life. They also served as the basis for his first novels.
Barrie though was increasingly drawn to working in the theatre. His first play, a biography of Richard Savage, was only performed once and critically panned. Undaunted he immediately followed this with Ibsen's Ghost in 1891, a parody of Ibsen's plays Hedda Gabler and Ghosts.
Barrie's third play, Walker, London, in 1892 led to an introduction to his future wife, a young actress by the name of Mary Ansell. The two became friends, and she helped his family to care for him when he fell very ill in 1893 and 1894. Barrie proposed and they were married, in Kirriemuir, on July 9th, 1894. By some accounts the relationship was unconsummated and indeed the couple had no children.
The story of Peter Pan had begun to formulate when Barrie became acquainted with the Llewelyn Davis family in 1897, meeting George, Jack and baby Peter with their nanny in London's Kensington Gardens.
In 1901 and 1902, Barrie had back-to-back theatre successes with Quality Street and The Admirable Crichton.
The character of "Peter Pan" first appeared in The Little White Bird in 1902. This most famous and enduring of his works; Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up had its first stage performance on December 27th, 1904.
Peter Pan would overshadow everything written during his career. He continued to write for the rest of his life contributing many other fine and important works.
Sir James Matthew Barrie, 1st Baronet, OM, died of pneumonia on June 19th,1937 and was buried at Kirriemuir next to his parents and two of his siblings.