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Peter Pan

Peter Pan is a fictional character created by J. M. Barrie, best known from the stage play and novel of the same name. He is a little boy who refuses to grow up, and spends his time having magical adventures.

Barrie created Peter Pan in stories he told to the sons of his friend Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, with whom Barrie had forged a special relationship. The character's name comes from Peter, at the time the youngest of the Llewelyn Davies boys, and from Pan, the Greek god of the woodlands.

Peter Pan first appeared in print in a 1902 book called The Little White Bird, a fictionalised version of Barrie's relationship with the Llewelyn Davies children, and was then used in a very successful 1904 stage play, Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up, which premiered in London on December 27, 1904. In 1906 the portion of The little White Bird which featured Peter Pan was published as the book Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, which was illustrated by Arthur Rackham. Barrie then adapted the play into the 1911 novel Peter and Wendy (but most often now published as Peter Pan).

The name "Wendy" became popular because of its use in Peter Pan.

There is a statue by George Frampton of Peter Pan, playing a set of pipes, in Kensington Gardens, London.

Table of contents
1 Storyline
2 Adaptations
3 Sequels
4 Copyright status
5 References
6 External links


In Peter Pan, both the play and the novel, the girl Wendy is invited to Neverland to be a mother for Peter's gang of Lost Boys. Many adventures ensue, often involving Peter's nemesis Captain Hook, before Wendy decides that her place is at home with her family.


Several musical versions of the play have been produced, of which the best known are Jerome Kern's 1924 version, Leonard Bernstein's 1950 version, and the 1954 version mounted by Jerome Robbins with songs by two writing teams, Mark Charlap with Carolyn Leigh, and Jule Styne with Betty Comden and Adolph Green.

The 1954 version became widely known as a vehicle for Mary Martin and for a series of female gymnasts, including Cathy Rigby.

In 1953 Disney released its animated film version of Peter Pan with music by Sammy Cahn, Frank Churchill, Sammy Fain, and Ted Sears.

In 2000 the United States Library of Congress deemed the 1924 version of the film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

In P. J. Hogan's 2003 live-action film version Peter Pan is played by Jeremy Sumpter, and Hook by Jason Isaacs.


Several people have attempted to create sequels to the story, generally failing to capture whatever it was that made the original such a success.

Gilbert Adair's novel Peter Pan and the Only Children was published in 1987. It had Peter living with a new gang of Lost Boys under the ocean, recruiting new members from children who fall from passing ships.

Steven Spielberg's film Hook had a grown-up Peter (played by Robin Williams) lured back to Neverland by Tinker Bell (Julia Roberts) to fight the returned Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman).

In 2002, Disney released Return to Neverland, a sequel to the 1953 Disney adaptation, in which Wendy's daughter Jane becomes involved with Peter Pan.

Copyright status

The government of the United Kingdom has enacted what amounts to a perpetual copyright (with a compulsory licence provision) on the works of the Peter Pan cycle. The exact phrasing is in section 301 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988:

  "301. The provisions of Schedule 6 have effect for conferring 
  on trustees for the benefit of the Hospital for Sick Children, 
  Great Ormond Street, London, a right to a royalty in respect of 
  the public performance, commercial publication, broadcasting or 
  inclusion in a cable programme service of the play 'Peter Pan' 
  by Sir James Matthew Barrie, or of any adaptation of that work, 
  notwithstanding that copyright in the work expired on 31 
  December 1987."  (source)

(It is worth noting that this does not cover the Peter Pan sections of The Little White Bird, which is not a derivative of the play.)

The only time this UK copyright will expire is when Great Ormond Street Hospital ceases to exist, or this section is repealed. With the beneficiary being a children's hospital, it is hard to imagine a future government taking such an action.

This is different from the pseudo-perpetual copyright created through successive copyright term extensions in that the United Kingdom lacks a monolithic constitution and thus lacks a "limited times" clause, allowing the UK Parliament to say "This copyright is hereby perpetual, and royalties go to this specific hospital."

On December 20, 2002, writer Emily Somma filed a preemptive lawsuit against the hospital to protect her derivative work, After the Rain: A New Adventure for Peter Pan. The hospital previously warned her that her book would be in violation of its copyrights. Somma argues that the characters are now in the public domain.


External links