- Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens
Infobox Book |
name = Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens
J. M. Barrie
language = English
genre = fantasy, children's literature
pub_date = 1906
The Little White Bird
Peter and Wendyor Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up
"Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens" is a novel by
James M. Barrie, published in 1906; it is one of four major literary works by Barrie featuring the widely known literary character he originated, Peter Pan.
Peter is a seven-day-old infant who, like "all" infants, used to be part bird. Peter has complete faith in his flying abilities, so, upon hearing a discussion of his adult life, he is able to escape out of the window of his
Londonhome and return to the Kensington Gardens. Upon returning to the Gardens, Peter is shocked to learn from the crowSolomon Caw that he is "not" still a bird, but more like a human - Solomon says he is crossed between them as a "Betwixt-and-Between". Unfortunately, Peter now knows he cannot fly, so he is stranded in the Kensington Gardens. At first, Peter can only get around on foot, but he commissions the building of a child-sized thrush's nest that he can use as a boat to navigate the Gardens by way of the Serpentine River.
Although he terrified the fairies when he first arrived, Peter quickly gains favor with them. He amuses them with his human ways, and agrees to play the
panpipesat the fairy dances. Eventually, Queen Mabgrants him the wish of his heart. He decides to return home to his mother. The fairies reluctantly help him to fly home, where his mother is asleep in his old bedroom.
Peter feels rather guilty for leaving his mother, but this is mostly due to the fact that he believes she misses him terribly. He considers returning to live with her, but decides to go back to the Gardens to say his last good-byes. Unfortunately, Peter stays too long in the Gardens; when he uses his second wish to go home permanently, he is devastated to learn that, in his absence, his mother has given birth to another boy she can love. Peter returns, heartbroken, to the Kensington Gardens. Peter later meets a little girl named Maimie Mannering who is lost in the Gardens. He and Maimie become fast friends, and little Peter asks her to marry him. Maimie nearly stays with him, but realizes that her mother must be missing her dreadfully. So she leaves Peter to return home. Maimie does not forget Peter, however; when she is older she makes presents and letters for him, and she even gives him an imaginary goat which he rides around every night. Maimie is the literary predecessor to the character
Wendy Darlingin Barrie's later " Peter and Wendy" story.
Throughout the novel, Peter misunderstands simple things like children's games. He does not know what a pram is, mistaking it for an animal and he becomes extremely attached to a boy's lost kite. It is only when Maimie tells him that he knows he plays all his games wrong. When Peter is not playing, he likes to make graves for the children who get lost at night, burying them with little headstones in the Gardens.
Most of the text of "Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens" was included as chapters 13-18 of Barrie's earlier novel "
The Little White Bird", published in 1902, with minor differences appearing on only nine pages of the separately published 1906 novel. [cite book |title=Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens and Peter and Wendy |last=Barrie |first=J.M. |editor=Peter Hollindale (Introduction and Notes) |year=1999 |pages=pp xxix-xxx |publisher=Oxford Press |isbn=0192839292 ] "The Little White Bird" was published as a novel for adult readers; whereas "Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens" was published specifically as a children's book. [cite book |title=Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens and Peter and Wendy |last=Barrie |first=J.M. |editor=Peter Hollindale (Introduction and Notes) |year=1999 |pages=p xix |publisher=Oxford Press |isbn=0192839292 ]
In 1904, Barrie wrote a stage play titled "
Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Would Not Grow Up", performed in December of that year, although it had not yet been published. The play is not a sequel or adaptation of the earlier novel; it is a different story, though closely based on the literary style, subtextconcepts, and the Peter Pan character he had developed in "The Little White Bird" and "Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens". In the play and later novel, Peter Pan as a character is portrayed as a few years older than the Peter Pan of Kensington Gardens. The stage play became the basis for Barrie's 1911 novel " Peter and Wendy" (later published under the title "Peter Pan and Wendy" beginning in 1921, and with subsequent publications using the title "Peter Pan"). The script of the stage play itself was published later in 1928. [cite book |title=Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens and Peter and Wendy |last=Barrie |first=J.M. |editor=Peter Hollindale (Introduction and Notes) |year=1999 |pages=p xxxi |publisher=Oxford Press |isbn=0192839292 ]
The story is set in
Kensington Gardens, a famous park in London, mostly after "Lock-Out Time", described by Barrie as the time at the end of the day when the park gates are closed to the public, and the fairiesand other magical inhabitants of the park can move about more freely than during the daylight, when generally, they must hide from ordinary people. [cite book |title=Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens and Peter and Wendy |last=Barrie |first=J.M. |editor=Peter Hollindale |year=1999 |pages=p 31 |publisher=Oxford Press |isbn=0192839292 ] The fairies of the gardens are first described in Thomas Tickell's 1722 poem "Kensington Gardens".
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