Peter Pan first appeared in J.M.Barrie's adult novel entitled “The Little White Bird” in 1902, but was so popular that he soon grew to have his very own adventures.
In 1904, “Peter Pan"; or "The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up” first appeared as a stage play, and was then adapted to a novel in 1911, titled “Peter and Wendy”.
Barrie never actually described Peter’s appearance in detail, even when Peter has his own stories. All he does tell us is that Peter was a beautiful boy with a beautiful smile, and tell us that he is “clad in skeleton leaves and the juices that flow from the trees”.
On stage, the character is traditionally played by a woman and now days - probably greatly influenced by Disney's adaptation of the story - is usually seen wearing a green tunic and tights, whilst Wendy is almost always seen wearing her blue nightdress, a look often re-creatred for fancy dress.
The adventures of Peter Pan have been adapted in many ways, by many people, but the following are probably most prominent:
Disney’s Peter Pan
Released in 1953, the animated fantasy-adventure was the 14th film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series.
Set in Edwardian London, the film begins in the neighbourhood of Bloomsbury, where we see Wendy Darling and her two brothers, John and George playing pirates in their bedroom while Peter watches on from outside her window. Entranced by Wendy’s stories, Peter teaches Wendy, John and George to fly so that they can come with him back to Neverland! All it takes is some faith, trust and pixie dust, then follow the second star to the right and straight on until dawn. Once there they meet the Lost Boys and Tinker Bell, adventure with mermaids and red indians, and fight off pirates and the wicked Captain Hook.
The movie has been a hit with children and adults of all ages - even Michael Jackson naming it as his favourite movie of all time and naming his estate after it: The Neverland Ranch. The movie has since been re-released 5 times, in 1958, 1969, 1976, 1982, and 1989.
Besides it’s re-releases, there have also been several spin-offs from the movie, including Peter Pan 2: Return To Neverland (released in 2002), Tinker Bell (a series of films all about Peter's pixie friend, affectionately nicknamed ‘Tink’) and Jake and the Neverland Pirates (a Disney Junior TV series following a band of young pirates named Jake, Izzy, Cubby and their parrot Skully, who spend their days competing against Captain Hook and Mr. Smee for treasure.)
‘Hook’ was released in 1991. The film directed by Steven Spielberg tells the story of what happened when Peter Pan left Neverland for good.
Having left Tinker Bell and the Lost Boys behind, Peter Banning as he is now known, has grown up and forgotten everything of his time and adventures in Neverland. He is now a successful lawyer and happily married (to Moira) with two children, Jack and Maggie. That is until they return home one night to find the house broken into, and Jack and Maggie gone. Left behind is a note, signed Captain Hook.
The film follows Peters journey back to Neverland as a grownup, where with help from the lost boys, their new leader Rufio and Tink - he must re-learn to fly and how not to be a grown up in order to save his children from Hook.
The movies all-star cast includes Robin Williams as Peter, Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook, Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell, Bob Hoskins as Smee and Maggie Smith as Wendy Darling (Gwyneth Paltrow also appears as a Young Wendy in flashbacks.)
Peter Pan – Universal Pictures
The most recent delve into the world of Peter Pan was taken by Universal Pictures in 2003, with their live action take.
Much like Disney’s portrayal of the story, the picture follows as Peter takes Wendy and her younger brothers off to Neverland.
This re-make of a classic brings Neverland back to life, with new twists and turns, whilst staying true to the classic.
G.O.S.H - Great Ormond Street Hospital
In 1929, J.M.Barrie gave all rights to Peter Pan to the Great Ormond Street Hospital, often abbreviated to G.O.S.H, the hospital provides world class care and pioneering techniques to care for sick children in the UK.
They have received royalties every year since, with proceeds from every production of the play, every book sold and every movie made going to them and their charity.
To this day, a bronze statue of Peter Pan and Tinker Bell sits outside the hospital entrance in tribute to the author.
It's Pans childish nature that appeals to all of us, and with the lessons taught throughout the stories, its no wonder Peter Pan has lived through the ages, and continues to thrive over 100 years after he first appeared.
"Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan