Illustration of Peter Pan playing the pipes, with Neverland in the background by F D Bedford, from the novel Peter and Wendy published in 1911.

Neverland (also spelled Never Land or expanded as Never Never Land) is a fictional world featured in the works of J. M. Barrie and those based on them. It is the dwelling place of Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, the Lost Boys, and others. Although not all people in Neverland cease to age, its best known resident famously refused to grow up, and it is often used as a metaphor for eternal childhood (and childishness), immortality, and escapism. It was introduced as "the Never Never Land" in 1904 performances of the theatre play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up by Scottish writer J. M. Barrie.

In his 1911 novelization Peter and Wendy, Barrie referred to "the Neverland", and its many variations were 'the Neverlands'.[1] In the earliest drafts of Barrie's play, the island was called "Peter's Never Never Never Land", a name possibly influenced by the contemporary term for outback Australia.[2] In the 1928 published version of the script, it was shortened to "the Never Land". Neverland has been featured prominently in subsequent works, either adapting Barrie's works or expanding upon them. These Neverlands sometimes vary in nature from the original.


Nature of Neverland

The novel explains that the Neverlands are found in the minds of children, and that although each is "always more or less an island', and they have a family resemblance, they are not the same from one child to the next. For example, John Darling's "had a lagoon with flamingos flying over it" while his little brother Michael's "had a flamingo with lagoons flying over it". The novel further explains that the Neverlands are compact enough that adventures are never far between. It says that a map of a child's mind would resemble a map of Neverland, with no boundaries at all.[1]

In Barrie's original tale, Peter led Wendy and her brothers to Neverland by flying "second to the right, and straight on till morning" for many days, though it is stated in the novel that Peter made up these directions on the spot to impress Wendy, and that they found the island only because it was out looking for them. In the 1953 Disney film, Peter Pan, the word "star" is added to the directions Peter speaks: "second star to the right, and straight on till morning." That phrase is widely quoted, and was used again in the 1991 movie Hook. In Peter Pan in Scarlet, the children get to the Neverland world by flying on a road called the High Way, and the island is located in a sea known as the Sea of One Thousand Islands.

The passage of time in Neverland is ambiguous. The novel Peter Pan mentions that there are many more suns and moons there than in our world, making time difficult to track. Although widely thought of as a place where children don't grow up, Barrie wrote that Lost Boys eventually grew up and have to leave, and fairies there lived typically short lifespans. According to Peter Pan in Scarlet, time froze to the children as soon as they got into Neverland.


Map of Neverland created by Walt Disney Productions as a promotion for its 1953 film Peter Pan. Users of Colgate-Palmolive's "Peter Pan Beauty Bar with Chlorophyll" could obtain the map by mailing in three soap wrappers and fifteen cents.[3]


In J.M. Barrie's play and novel, most of the adventures in the stories take place in the Neverwood. The Lost Boys hunt and fight here, and build the Wendy house here, and it is also the location of the Home Underground, where Peter and the Boys reside. It is also where the lost boys engage with the redskins and pirates in battle, as the pirates are led by Hook to search for Peter and the lost boy's hidden Home Underground within the forest.

The mermaids live in Mermaids' Lagoon and can often be found brushing their beautiful hair. This is also the location of Marooners' Rock. It is dangerous for mortals to come anywhere near here at night, and it is the most dangerous place in Neverland. Trapped on Marooners' Rock, close offshore the lagoon, Peter faced the impending death of drowning, as he couldn't swim nor fly from it to safety. The mermaids made no attempt to rescue him, but he was saved by the Neverbird.


The "Black Castle", which is referred to in the 2003 film. It is an old abandoned castle, with stone dragons all over it. It is one of the places where Tiger Lily was taken by Captain James Hook.

Neverpeak Mountain is the huge mountain that is right in the middle of Neverland. According to Peter Pan in Scarlet, when a child is on top of Neverpeak Mountain, he or she can see over anyone and anything and can see beyond belief.

The Maze of Regrets is a maze in Peter Pan in Scarlet where all the mothers of the Lost Boys go to find their boys. This was thought to be a maze of witches before the League of Pan ran into Mr. Smee.

Pixie Hollow is where Tinker Bell and her tiny fairy friends live and dwell in Disney's Tinker Bell movies and related books.

In the film Hook, the pirates occupy a small port town, consisting of merchant services, shopfronts, warehouses, hotel/pubs and an improvised baseball field, and many ships and boats of varying sizes and kinds fill the harbor. The Home Underground has also been replaced by an elaborate tree structure on an outcropping of rock separate from the main island.



Fairies inhabit the Neverland. They are the source of fairy dust, a magic material which enables people to fly, in conjunction with them thinking happy thoughts. The most prominently featured and famous is Tinker Bell, Peter Pan's companion in the play and novel. Barrie's describes their origin: "When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces,... and that was the beginning of fairies".[4] Their existence depends on humans' belief in fairies, to the point that when a child expresses a disbelief in them, one of them dies. But when Peter and children all around the world say that they believe in them, this restores Tinker Bell to health after being poisoned. They are short-lived; at the end of Barrie's novel when Peter returns after a few years, Wendy asks him about Tinker Bell, whom he has forgotten. He answers "I expect she is no more", and Wendy acknowledges the short lives of fairies, which to them, as they are so small, "seem like such a long time".

The Disney Fairies Peter Pan franchise has elaborated on aspects of Barrie's fairy mythology. The 'Never Fairies' (and associated sparrow men) live in Pixie Hollow, located in the heart of Neverland.[5] As stated in the Tinker Bell film, after each baby's first laugh breaks into numerous (bubble-looking) pieces, any piece that can blow with the wind and survive the trip to Pixie Hollow becomes a fairy, who then learns his/her specific talent.


Birds occupy a variety of different roles in the Neverland. In the novel and the play, between the flight from the mainland (reality) and the Neverland, they are relatively simple animals which provide entertainment, instruction and some limited guidance to flyers. These birds are described as unable to sight its shores, "even, carrying maps and consulting them at windy corners".

A half-magical bird called the Neverbird, is also very prominently featured in the novel and play.

Lost Boys

The Lost Boys are "Children who fall out of their prams when the nurse is not looking"[6]. If they are not claimed in seven days, they are sent to the Neverland. They are six of them: Tootles, Nibs, Slightly, Curly and the Twins. They are not permitted to fly by Peter, as it is a sign of his authority and uniqueness. They live in tree houses and caves, wear animal skins, bear spears and bow-and-arrows, and live for adventure. They are a formidable fighting force despite their youth and they make war with the pirates, although they seem to enjoy a harmonious existence with the other inhabitants of Neverland. Their leader, who they call 'father', is Peter Pan, in whose absence their activity and bloodlust is diminished, and to whom they are completely loyal, fearful and adoring. The lost boys are also fascinated with having a mother, and they show similar affection for Wendy, when she assumes the role. Following Peter's defeat of the pirates and commandeering of the Jolly Roger, they are adopted by Wendy's parents.


The crew of the pirate ship Jolly Roger have taken up residence off-shore, and are widely feared throughout Neverland. How they came to be in Neverland is unclear. Their captain is the ruthless James Hook, known as Captain James Hook or more personally Jas Hook, named after (or predestined for) the hook in place of his right hand, and who is obsessed with finding Peter and his Lost Boys' secret lair and exacting revenge for the loss of his hand, which was cut off by Peter and then fed to the crocodile, which has "licked its lips after the rest of him, ever since". After James Hook's death, the Jolly Roger is taken over by Peter Pan, to fly everyone back to London.


There is a tribe of wigwam-dwelling American Indians who live on the island, who refer to themselves as 'Redskins', although Barrie himself referred to them as the Piccaninny tribe. They have an imposing tribal chief Great Big Little Panther, whose daughter Tiger Lily is the princess of the tribe. She has a crush on Peter Pan. The Redskins are known to make ferocious and deadly war against Captain Hook and his pirates, but their connection with the Lost Boys is more lighthearted. For 'many moons' the two groups have captured each other, only to promptly release the captives, as though it were a game. It is also unclear how the Redskins came to be in Neverland although they seem to have been in Neverland for some time though, as it is stated they know it better than anyone.


Mermaids live in the lagoon. They enjoy the company of Peter Pan but seem malevolent towards everybody else, including the fairies, and show a unique dislike of Wendy, who is the 'special' female interest of Peter. They are hedonistic, frivolous and arrogant; they "sing" and play the "mermaid games" all day, like blowing bubbles, and they "love to bask out on Marooners' Rock, combing their hair in a lazy way". Wendy is enchanted with their beauty, but finds them offensive and irritating, as they would "splash her with their tails, not accidentally, but intentionally" when she attempted to steal a closer look. They occupy rock-pools and the ocean surrounding Marooners' Rock, and their homes are "coral caves underneath the waves" which they retire to at sunset and rising tide, as well as in anticipation of storms. The Peter Pan (2003 film) briefly describes mermaids as unlike those in story books, rather as 'dark and dangerous creatures in touch with all things mysterious', and who will drown humans who get to close, but do not harm Peter and report him intelligences upon request, such as Hook's whereabouts on the island at any one time. When one attempts to drown Wendy, Peter hisses - rather than crows - at them to command her protection. This sequence is influenced by Barrie's allusion to the mermaid's "haunting" transformation at the "turn of the moon, where they utter strange wailing cries" when "the lagoon is dangerous for mortals". In the novel, the Mermaids' Lagoon, and the mermaids' precious and transient company is a favourite 'adventure' of Peter and the others, where they take the "midday meal". Peter gave Wendy one the mermaid's combs as a gift.

Animal kingdom

Animals, referred to as "beasts", live throughout Neverland, such as bears, tigers, lions, deer and crocodiles. As described in Barrie's original novel, these "beasts" are hunted by the Redskins, who are hunted by the Pirates, who are in turn hunted by the Lost Boys, creating a chain of prey and murder in the Neverland.

Other residents

There are other inhabitants of Neverland which are suggested by Barrie in his original novel, such as witches, a "small old lady with a hooked nose" (which possibly alludes to a specific witch), "knomes who are mostly tailors", and princes "with six elder brothers" - reminiscent of European folk fairy tales. There are also some briefly described locations without inhabitants, but suggestive of their former presence, such as a "hut fast going to decay". One inhabitant is the Neverbird, which is featured prominently in chapter nine, after which it is named. It is described as a nurturing, motherly spirit, compared to Mrs. Darling, who guides her baby's nest to Peter when he is trapped on Marooners' Rock (in the Mermaids' Lagoon), facing his impending death by drowning, and who rescues hims from harm. The Neverbird is contrasted in this chapter to the Mermaids, who "retire one by one to their bedchambers in the coral caves under the sea," ignoring him rather than attempting to help him.

In the many revisions of Peter Pan, inhabitants of the Neverland have been omitted, added, or elaborated. In the Japanese anime 'the adventures of Peter Pan' (Peter Pan no Boken), the individual characters of the pirates, redskins and mermaids are elaborated and new characters, such as the split-personality, magic-casting princess Luna and her dark alter-ego and the witch Sinistra. The elaborate rendition of the kingdom which they are occupy is also an non-cannon addition, which suggests variously throughout the series that the Neverland was once, or possibly still is elsewhere, occupied by principalities of human subjects. The presence of kingdoms and principalities within the Neverland, while absent from Barrie's canonical rendition of the Neverland, is probably based on his allusion to "princes with six elder brothers" and other fairy tale motifs.

See also

Book collection.jpg Novels portal


  1. ^ a b Barrie, James Matthew (1911). Peter and Wendy. De Vinne Press. pp. 267 pages. 
  2. ^ A History of the Phrase "Never-Never Land" at
  3. ^ Hopkins, Martha; Michael Buscher (1999). Language of the Land: The Library of Congress Book of Literary Maps. Washington, DC: Library of Congress. p. 187. ISBN 0-8444-0963-4. 
  4. ^ Peter Pan' Play and novel, JM Barrie'
  5. ^ Monique Peterson, In the Realm of the Never Fairies: The Secret World of Pixie Hollow, Disney Press, 2006
  6. ^ Peter and Wendy, JM Barrie (1911)

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