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J. M. Barrie and the Lost Boys: The Real Story Behind Peter Pan Paperback – July 11, 2003
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"A psychological thriller . . . one of the year's most complex and absorbing biographies."
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Birkin completed the book when adapting the story of J M Barrie for a BBC mini-series, The Lost Boys. As well as writing Peter Pan, Barrie was in his time, regarded as a playwright the equal of George Bernard Shaw. That his work quickly fell out of favour may be due to its pathos and close relation to Barrie's own life.
I stumbled across this book over ten years ago, and its poignancy, honestly and power have been with me ever since.
It centres around the Llewelyn Davies family, which became the inspiration for Peter Pan, but went on to have an even more profound impact upon the life of the melancholic Scottish playwright.
As one of the protagonists later wrote, the masses of photographs (extensively reproduced in the book) seem to foretell the whole sad story. Indeed, Birkin's strength is allowing the story to unfold through letters, images and quotation from Barrie's surprisingly autobiographical work. What emerges is the finest of biographies. Peter Pan acquires a whole new sad significance in the light of this book, and it captures the fading Edwardian twighlight exquisitely.
Upon the death of the last of the Llewelyn Davies boys (after first publication), the majority of the material used in the book was bequeathed to Birkin, a ringing endorsement of his sensitive and perceptive retelling of the story.
I cannot recommend this book too highly.
By drawing heavily on Barrie's notebooks as well as his and the Llewelyn Davies family's letters and other correspondence, the text allows the large cast of participants to tell their story in piecemeal fashion. The result, which resembles an elaborate mosaic, is a poignant reflection on tragic events, both those which might have been averted and those, like disease and the Great War, which could not have been.
'J. M. Barrie & the Lost Boys' is also an excellent illustration of Freud's theory of 'family romance' in both its constructive and destructive aspects. The sentimental Barrie was deeply tied to and haunted by his own familial relationships, a psychology he brought to and projected upon the Llewelyn Davies family after becoming enchanted by two of their young boys in Kensington Gardens. Barrie was a middle aged and childless man, if a very successful one, at that time in his life, and his manipulative and interloping intrusion into the family has been a subject of speculation by historians and literary scholars ever since.Read more ›
I originally read the mass market size, paperback of this biography and was very pleased. However, I now realize how much I had missed, in terms of photographs and reproductions. This newest version is a real must-have for those interested in the life and work of Barrie.
Birkin does an extraordinary job of showing us Barrie’s life and work and most importantly his relationship with the Llewelyn Davies family. He does all of this without passing judgement, which in my view is the true test of a good biographer. Too often history and biography falls prey to post-modern sensibilities and correctness.
This story is touching and sad. Read this biography and then re-read some of the classic Barrie novels, they will come to life for you. One of my best reads of the year, highly recommended!
Barrie was born in 1861 in the weaving village of Kirriemuir in Scotland. When he was six, his older brother died, and Barrie realized that for their mother, the idealized elder brother would always be a boy of thirteen. The theme of the boy who never grew up was to be a constant in Barrie's novels and plays. He was notoriously quiet and shy, as he would be all his life, attracting little observation by others, but observing others constantly. He became a journalist and then a tremendously successful novelist and playwright. He married, but his real love was for children, and he and his wife (who left him for a lover fifteen years later) never had any.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great book! Literary history that reads like fiction... Heartbreaking and also, somehow, heartening... Will keep to read again someday.Published 10 months ago by Donna M. Wells
Very interesting & sad. Mr Barrie had a strange life & the "boys" he informally adopted lost both parents. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Jane Hahn
I purchased this book as a birthday present for my Aunt. She is really delighted with the book.Published on August 3, 2014 by CAMK
This is the finest thing that has every been written on Barrie. If you have any interest in who he was and what his relationships were with the boys behind the story, this it the... Read morePublished on February 7, 2014 by jay edson
I have been fascinated by the back story of Peter Pan since I was a young boy. The idea of a sassy little guy leading children to a world of adventure appealed to my inquisitive... Read morePublished on December 26, 2013 by Schuyler T Wallace
Wow. I thought Ann Thwaite's biography of A.A. Milne was quite something with regards to Milne's son and the whole Winnie the Pooh thing, but now that seems mild to me compared to... Read morePublished on November 30, 2012 by Anne Salazar