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Peter Pan Books In Order

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Publication Order of Peter Pan Books

The Little White Bird (1902)Description / Buy at Amazon
Peter Pan (1904)Description / Buy at Amazon
Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (1906)Description / Buy at Amazon
Peter and Wendy (1911)Description / Buy at Amazon

About Peter Pan:

Life and Personality

Peter Pan is the fruit of the vivid imagination of the English writer James M. Barrie, who takes the decision of never describing him in detail and therefore leaving to his readers all the imagination work. The reader only knows that he is a beautiful boy with a beautiful smile. He decided to abandon his house after he heard his parents talking about what he was supposed to do once he’d grown up. He decides not to take responsibilities and not to face a life he’s already sure he won’t like. He reaches Neverland, a fantasy world where nobody grows up and everybody can enjoy their childhood forever. Peter here lives with his friends: a fairy Tinker Bell, who is slightly in love with the boy, and his gang, the Lost Boy, children abandoned or lost by their parents.

Peter comes back once to his native world, to see if his parents, and particularly his mother, were still thinking about him. When he reaches his house, he finds the window of his bedroom closed and a new baby in his old crib: he thinks his mother has forgotten about him and decides never to come back. Before returning to Neverland he decides to enter the Darling’s house, sure to find there a new disciple. Instead, he meets Wendy and his brothers, with whom he starts a series of amazing adventures.

Peter has a nonchalant attitude, he likes danger and adventures. He can be quite arrogant and selfish sometimes, but being only a child, he does not understand the repercussions that his actions can have on other people’s lives.

Peter Pan’s favourite distraction is to annoy his bitter enemy Captain Hook, to provoke him and fight with him endless, almost deadly fights.

Peter has a very short memory: he continuously forgets who Wendy and his brothers are and has to ask them time after time. An episode he never forgets is when he cut Captain Hook’s hand, probably because it is an episode that represents children’s victory over adults.

Peter knows how to fly because he is a child and “every baby is part bird”. He teaches Wendy and his brothers how to fly using a combination of ”lovely wonderful thoughts” and fairy dust.

Although both Wendy and Tinker Bell fall in love with Peter Pan, he does not sees and understand their feelings. As a matter of fact, Peter considers women only in the role of mothers and seeks in every girl a substitute mother.

Where does the Character of Peter Pan comes from?

The character of Peter Pan is the synthesis of two figures.

The first one is Pan, son of the god Hermes and the nymph Penelope, who refused to raise his child because of his dreadful aspect. Pan in fact was born with sheep’s paws, horns and a long beard. Abandoned by his family, Pan grew up in Arcadia, in the middle of the nature, exactly like Peter.

The second figure that served as a model to Peter Pan is Barrie’s young brother, David, who died when he was only 14 years old in an accident on an ice-skating field. Barrie wanted to honour the memory of his young brother, who in fact never had the chance to grow up.

Peter Pan in the Literature

James M. Barrie introduced the character of Peter Pan for the first time in 1902 in the novel The Little Bird. The novel is set both in London and in fantasy locations and is a series of short episodes, narrating the Londoners’ lives and adventures. The Peter presented here differs from the better known character primarily because he is only a week old. The middle chapters evolve around the fanciful set of Kensington Gardens and later became a separated book titled Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. This book presents the origin story of Peter and tells how he flew away from his home, took up a residence in Kensington Gardens and met some fairies, that later became his friends.

The most well-known work centred around the young boy is the play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. Written in 1904, it tells the story of how Peter met Wendy and her brothers and how they flew together to Neverland. Here, the children meet a large number of characters, among which there is Peter’s nemesis, Captain Hook. The play was later novelised by Barrie in 1911, with the title of Peter Pan and Wendy.

Peter is also the protagonist of the authorized sequel novel Peter Pan in Scarlet, by Geraldine McCaughrean. Released internationally on October 5, 2006, it continues the story of the Lost Boys, Wendy’s family and Peter Pan in 1926, during the reign of George V and after World War I. The novel is centred around the idea that World War I bombings have created holes through the real world into Neverland, and therefore the two worlds are colliding, with dreams and ideas belonging of the two realities filtering through. Wendy persuades the former Lost Boys, who are now living in the real world, to go back to Neverland to help Peter Pan return both worlds to normality.

Peter Pan in the Cinema

Peter Pan appeared in a great number of screen adaptations.

First of all, Walt Disney adapted the play in 1953 in an animated feature film titled Peter Pan, which had a tremendous success among both children and adults.

Then, the book served as the background for the movie Hook, filmed in 1991 by Steven Spielberg. The movie tells the story of a grown-up Peter, who is now an attorney and is known with the name of Peter Banning. He has forgotten about his life in Neverland and he lives with his wife and children in London. The plot suddenly livens up when Peter’s bitter enemy Captain Hook abducts Peter’s children to force him back to Neverland in a final deathly duel.

In 2002, the Disney company made another film centered on Peter Pan and titled Return to Neverland. The film is set during World War II, when Wendy’s daughter Jane is abducted by Captain Hook and taken to Neverland. Here, she meets Peter: together they overcome many adventures and eventually Peter asks her if she wants to be the first “Lost Girl”. Wendy’s daughter, although fascinated by this land of mysteries and fairies, decides to go back to the real world. Peter brings her back home and meets Wendy for a last time.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Peter Pan

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