Wendy Darling

Wendy Darling

Wendy Moira Angela Darling is a fictional heroine and female protagonist in the "Peter Pan" stories by J. M. Barrie, and in most of their adaptations in other media. Her exact age is not specified in the original play or novel by Barrie, and varies in various presentations and adaptions from the ages of 11 to 16; in her most widely known portrayal in the 1953 Disney film, she appears 12. Likewise, her hair color has variously been blonde, brown, or black. As a girl who is beginning to "grow up", she stands in contrast to Peter Pan, a boy who refuses to do so, the major theme of the Peter Pan stories.


In the novel "Peter Pan", and its cinematic adaptations, she is an Edwardian schoolgirl on the brink of (or during) adolescence. She belongs to a middle class London household of that era, and is the daughter of George Darling, a short-tempered and pompous bank/office worker, and his wife, Mary. She shares a nursery room with her two brothers, Michael and John. However, in the Disney version, her father decides that "it's high time she found a room of her own" and kicks her out of the nursery for "stuffing the boys' heads with her lot of silly stories", but changes his mind at the end of the film. Thus, despite her assertation that she's ready to mature, she stays in the nursery to take care of her two brothers.


Wendy is the most developed character in the story of Peter Pan, and is often considered the central protagonist. She is proud of her own childhood and enjoys telling stories and fantasizing. She has a distaste for adulthood, acquired partly by the example of it set by her father, whom she loves but somewhat fears due to his somewhat violent anger fits. Her ambition early in the story is to somehow "avoid" growing up. She is granted this opportunity by Peter Pan, who takes her and her brothers to Neverland, where they can remain young indefinitely.

Ironically, Wendy finds that this experience brings out her more adult side. Peter and the tribe of Lost Boys who dwell in Neverland want her to be their "mother" (a role they remember only vaguely), a request she tentatively accedes to, performing various domestic tasks for them. There is also a degree of innocent or implied flirtation with Peter (thereby forming a love triangle with Peter's sometimes-jealous fairy friend Tinker Bell). In the Disney version she also becomes jealous of Princess Tiger Lily after the Princess kisses Peter. (In fact, she becomes so jealous she turns on her heel and marches back to the "Tree House")

Wendy eventually learns to accept the virtues of adulthood, and returns to London, having decided not to postpone maturity any longer.

In an episode included in the novel and later incorporated into some productions of the play, Wendy has grown up and married, and has a daughter, Jane. When Peter returns looking for Wendy (not understanding that she would no longer be a girl), he meets Jane; Wendy lets her daughter go off with him, apparently trusting her to make the same choices. The same scenario later plays out between Jane and Wendy's granddaughter Margaret.

The name "Wendy"

The first name "Wendy" was very uncommon in the Anglosphere until after the "Peter Pan" mythos became well known, and its subsequent popularity has led some to credit Barrie with "inventing" it. Although the name "Wendy" was used to a limited extent as the familiar-form of the Welsh name Gwendolyn, it is believed that Barrie took the name from a phrase used by Margaret Henley, a six-year-old girl whom Barrie befriended in the 1890s. She called Barrie her "friendy-wendy", which she pronounced as "fwendy-wendy". [http://www.wendy.com/wendyweb/history.html]

Portrayal in film

*"Peter Pan" (1924 silent live-action film) - Mary Brian. The actress was 18, but publicity materials claimed she was 16.

*"Peter Pan" (1953 animated film) - Kathryn Beaumont (Voice). Disney's Wendy is portrayed as being a mother first and foremost, with all the classical ideas of how to be a mother and care for people. She appears bossy but well-meaning, and slightly taken with Peter. She also appears at the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts as a meetable character.

*"Hook" (1991 live-action film) - Maggie Smith plays a very aged Wendy, who is being honored for her lifetime of work in finding homes for orphans. Her granddaughter Moira is the wife of Peter Banning (Robin Williams), the former Peter Pan who has grown up and forgotten his life in Neverland. During a flashback to Peter's childhood, a younger Wendy is played by Gwyneth Paltrow.

*"Peter Pan" (2003 live-action film) - Rachel Hurd-Wood. In this film, as in Barrie's original treatment, Wendy easily falls into a mothering role with her male companions, but is conflicted by her romantic feelings towards Peter, who reacts with incomprehension and annoyance. She is also more adventurous than in most adaptations, taking part in the conflict with the pirates including the sword fighting. The film also develops Barrie's hint that Wendy has incipient romantic feelings for the more mature and virile Hook, showing that she is growing up in spite of her intentions.
*"Return to Never Land" (2002 animated film) - Kath Soucie voices a grown-up Wendy who has raised her children in the tales of Peter Pan.

*Wendy appeared briefly in "Shrek the Third" as a resident of Far Far Away.

Portrayal in television

In the anime series "Peter Pan no Boken" ("Adventures of Peter Pan"), which is a part of the World Masterpiece Theater, a rather tomboyish Wendy has a pivotal role in the second part of the series, which depicts a completely original story where Peter Pan, the Lost Kids and the Darling siblings must save a young witch named Luna from the clutches of her evil grandmother, the witch Sinistra, and Wendy is the one who truly saves her. She's also shown directly antagonizing Captain Hook when he kidnaps her in the first part, yelling at him and even impersonating his mother at some point to manipulate his fears against him.

Wendy herself is voiced by veteran voice actress Naoko Matsui, who provides her voice in the Japanese version of the Disney film.

The Disney version of Wendy was featured as one of the guests in House of Mouse; however, despite the fact that Kathryn Beaumont was credited as providing Alice's voice, Wendy said nothing.

Portrayal in other media

*The Disney version of Wendy is featured in the video-game "Kingdom Hearts". In the game, Captain Hook believes she is a princess of Heart and is displeased when it turns out she's not.

*In Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie's adult graphic novel "Lost Girls", first published in full in 2006, Wendy is re-imagined as a middle-aged woman who (in an encounter with Oz's Dorothy and Wonderland's Alice) recounts her sexual encounters with a local homeless boy who represents the "real" Peter Pan. The graphic novel faced disapproval from the Great Ormond Street Hospital, which denied permission to publish the book in the European Union while their copyrights were still in force (through 2007).

*In 2008 Disney campaign "Year of a Million Dreams", Wendy was portrayed by supermodel Gisele Bündchen

*The Wendy Trilogy, a feminist-minded retelling of the Peter Pan story as a three-song cycle, shows Wendy accepting, rather than refusing, Captain Hook's offer to make her a pirate, and subsequently becoming mistress of the Jolly Roger.

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