James Matthew Barrie (Johnny Depp) had promised Charles Frohman (Dustin Hoffman), his American friend and producer, that he would create a new play for the American actress Maude Adams (later the inspiration for Somewhere in Time). Barrie started to write that play (which was based on the exploits of five boys whom Barrie knew) in November of 1903.
The main character - Peter Pan - wasn’t new to Barrie since he had already created him in The Little White Bird. Nor was the subject matter foreign to the playwright: He had been thinking about boys who don’t grow up since his own brother David died. Even Wendy was based on a real person.
When Barrie finished an early draft of the play (its working title was The Great White Father), he read it to an acclaimed actor-manager, Herbert Tree. Shocked, Tree sent a message to Frohman: “Barrie has gone out of his mind...He’s just read me a play. He is going to read it to you, so I am warning you.”
But Tree was wrong. First performed at London’s Duke of York Theater, on the 27th of December 1904, the play was a huge success. When Nina Boucicault (playing Peter Pan) asked the audience whether they believed in fairies, she was so stunned by their reaction she could not hold back her tears.
In this story behind the movie, meet J.M. Barrie, Mary Ansell Barrie (Radha Mitchell), Emma du Maurier (Julie Christie), Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Kate Winslet), her five sons (on whom Peter Pan is based) and Porthos (Barrie’s St Bernard who was the inspiration for Nana). Step back in time to virtually visit the places where Barrie and his friends lived and played. Find out what happened to them during the rest of their lives.
Learn why Barrie bequeathed his Peter Pan copyright to the Great Ormond Street Hospital (in April of 1929) and discover how those royalties have benefited children ever since.
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