• Happy birthday Gloria Whelan (Homeless Bird).
  • Happy birthday Marc Simont (Stray Dog).
  • It’s the birth date of Boris Karloff (1887–1969), known for his monster portrayal in the movie Frankenstein, and narrator of recorded versions of The Three Little Pigs and Just So Stories.
  • Writing about freedom of speech and expression, John Milton publishes Aeropagitica, decrying censorship, in 1644. Read Nothing But the Truth by Avi.
  • The first jukebox makes its debut in San Francisco’s Palais Royale Saloon in 1889. Read The Jukebox Man by Jacqueline Ogburn.
  • It’s Eat a Cranberry Day, perhaps to practice for Thanksgiving. Read Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin.

On November 23, 1903, an already popular writer and playwright began the first draft of a play entitled “ANON” and set in the night nursery of the Darling family. A few years later, in 1911, he extended the script ideas of that play, Peter Pan, into a longer novel for children, Wendy and Peter. In reality no definitive edition of Peter Pan exists, for J. M. Barrie constantly changed it for the stage and various print formats. In The Annotated Peter Pan Maria Tatar deftly describes all the versions of the work before examining Wendy and Peter in detail.

From creating Nana, the best nursemaid possible, to recounting Peter Pan’s adventures on a remote island with Captain Hook, James Barrie told a story that has become part of our collective conscience. Since the beginning of the Almanac, I have been hunting for a version of Peter Pan to recommend but I found everything I looked at wanting. Hence I am absolutely delighted that The Annotated Peter Pan has been published.  So much valuable material has been brought together in this volume that it is worth having—or giving as a gift—for any fan of Peter Pan.

Tatar masterfully re-creates Barrie’s life. With an even hand, she explores Barrie’s marriage and his relationships with the five sons of Arthur and Sylvia Llewlyn Davies, who provided both the inspiration for Peter Pan and an audience for early renditions. Certainly Barrie’s psyche, which produced a saga about the boy who never grew up, provides a great deal of material for any writer. Rather than aiming for the sensational, or even the speculative, Tatar uses impeccable scholarship to ground the book in what can be learned from primary documents found at the Beinecke Library at Yale.

She rounds out her analysis with fascinating photos and materials such as a reproduction of Arthur Rackham’s artwork for Peter Pan in Kensington Garden. Barrie’s early rendition of the story, The Boys Castaway of Black Lake Island, created for the Llewlyn Davies boys, has been included in its entirety. Pictures from the Walt Disney animated movie and even shots of Johnny Depp, portraying Barrie in the film Finding Neverland, round out the book. Rarely has such an extensive body of archival materials been pulled together to celebrate a cultural icon.

Thank you, Marie Tatar, for making Christmas shopping easy for me this year! Although I have grown up since I first encountered this story as a child, part of me remains forever with Peter, Wendy, Nana, and the Lost Boys. In this volume I can relive that fantasy once again.

Here’s a page from The Annotated Peter Pan:


Originally posted November 23, 2011. Updated for .

Tags: Adventure, Survival
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for The Annotated Peter Pan
One year ago: Marc Simont


  1. Bobbi Miller says:

    I hadn’t known that there was an annotated Peter Pan! I love these books, and Maria Tartar has quite a few out. This is definitely on my list of must have books. Thank you!

  2. G. Perry says:

    I’ve always tried to keep an eye open for any annotated children’s books coming from Norton and Harvard, but I sure missed this one. Thanks!

    I’m off to find it.

  3. My copy of Peter Pan is illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. I will treasure it always.

  4. Chelsea DeTorres says:

    I don’t remember what edition I had but growing up, it was the biggest book on my shelf. I waited for Peter Pan to come visit me and my sisters for years, leaving the window open which was a big annoyance to my own mother. I love this book and it will always be in my top three favorites.

  5. Whitney says:

    Maria Tatar’s investigations into these stories fascinate me. I don’t own this one, but she talks about Peter Pan a lot in her “Enchanted Hunters.”

  6. Char Sidell says:

    You’ve done it again! THANK YOU for sharing this book with us. I am going to put it on my Christmas list. Peter Pan is my very favorite children’s story. I have collected may versions, and Barrie related bios. My favorite Peter Pan copy was illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman, as someone else has mentioned.
    This fall I saw the new musical “Finding Neverland” by the A.R.T. here in Cambridge, MA. It was beyond wonderful and I hope it makes it to Broadmway – it deserves to! I am looking forward to reading Maria Tatar’s book and learning more about this loved story.

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