'I think therefore I am.'  Descartes            'I AM THAT I AM.'  Exodus.3.        'I am what I am.'  La Cage aux Folles

09 October 2012

Never Grow Up

J M Barrie's 'Peter Pan' 
and the Five Llewelyn Davies Boys
There is an innate appeal of remaining a child and never growing up, a yearning to do as we please and to hell with the consequences, to have fun and ignore responsibilities. It was this childlike mischievous attitude J M Barrie saw in the young boys of the Llewelyn Davies family that made him feel the joy of being like a child and moved him to write the stories of the boy who never grew up. He said they were like sticks rubbed together that ignited the flame that was Peter Pan who was the essence of them all.
Sir James Matthew Barrie, 1st Baronet was born in Scotland on the 9th May 1860. Barrie was a mere 5ft 3 1/2 inches. Becoming an author and playwright, he first created Peter Pan in the collection 'The Little White Bird' in 1902. Peter was inspired by the Llewelyn boys whom he had met in 1897 and was about a baby boy who had magical adventures in Kensington Gardens. In 1904 came the play 'Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up.' In it the character Wendy (a seldom used male name in Britain and virtually invented as a female name by Barrie) had been inspired by Margaret Henley the daughter of a friend who could not pronounce her R's and called him 'fwiendy wendy'. In 1894 he married Mary Ansell, but it was unconsumated and she eventually had an affair so they divorced in 1909. He died of pneumonia on the 19th June 1937 and had left the Peter Pan works to the Great Ormond Street Hospital or Hospital for Sick Children. His first work was in 1888 and his last was a film treatment in 1936 for 'As You Like It', the first Shakespearean film of Lawrence Olivier.
J M Barrie and favourite Michael Llewelyn Davies
Michael Llewelyn Davies dressed as Peter Pan
Arthur Llewelyn Davies married Sylvia du Maurier. The couple initially had had three sons: George, John, and Peter. When Peter was still a baby in 1897 they met the 37 year old Scottish writer James Matthew Barrie in Kensington Gardens. Barrie quickly created a strong bond with the little boys and was known to the Llewelyn Davies family as "Uncle Jim". In 1900, Michael Llewelyn Davies was born and Nicholas in 1903. Peter Pan was first introduced to the world in the 1902 novel The Little White Bird.
All the Peter Pan stories were inspired by the five Llewelyn Davies boys.
Llewelyn Davies boys photographed by J M Barrie
George Llewelyn Davies (1893-1915) killed age 22.
George was born on July 20, 1893. He was four years old when he met Barrie and he formed a strong bond with him that would last until his untimely death. Barrie, reportedly, named the character of George Darling after him and also modelled his early Peter Pan after the 10 year old boy.  George went to Eton, he began developing his acting talent but these were cut short by World War I. George joined the King's Royal Rifle Corps and died of a head wound on March 15, 1915.
John "Jack" Llewelyn Davies (1894-1959) died age 65
John or "Jack" Llewelyn Davies was never close to Barrie thinking that Barrie tried to replace his father who died in 1907. At the age of 16, John joined the Royal Navy. His mother died soon after and Barrie became guardian of the family. John married Geraldine Gibb without the approval of Barrie, but Barrie maintained a relationship with the couple and gave them the Llewelyn Davies home. John died on September 17, 1959 at the age of 65. The character John Darling was named after him.
Peter Llewelyn Davies (1897-1960) suicide age 63
Peter Llewelyn Davies is sometimes known as "The Original Peter Pan". Peter volunteered for the War with his brother George. He survived, but the trauma affected the rest of his life. In 1917, Peter got involved in a relationship with Hungarian artist Vera Willoughby 27 years his senior. The ‘scandal’  separated him from Barrie and his family for several years. After the war, Peter founded the Peter Davies Ltd. publishing house. He grew to hate the past and the association with the Peter Pan. He developed severe depression, probably aggravated by his drinking and on April 5, 1960, Peter threw himself in front of an oncoming train.
Michael Llewelyn Davies (1900-1921) drowned age 20
Michael was, supposedly, Barrie's favourite. Along with his brother George, he was able to get closer to Barrie than any of the other Llewelyn Davies boys. Michael was very wild and very bright. After he went away to Eton, he and Barrie wrote letters to each other every day. Michael later attended Christ Church, Oxford. It was there that he met the artistic Rupert Buxton (right). The two became inseparable friends at college and also on holidays and were presumed certain to have been lovers. On May 19, 1921, Michael (almost 21) and Rupert (just 21) were found drowned and clasped in each other’s arms in the notoriously dangerous Sandford Lock on the River Thames. It has never been determined whether or not their deaths were accidental or a suicide pact. Rupert was, reportedly, very suicidal and it was a well known that the Sandford Lock had claimed the lives of three young men during the 19th century.
According to Baron (Robert) Boothby, while at Oxford, Michael also had a short sexual relationship with Roger Senhouse (below) a member of the Bloomsbury group.
Nicholas "Nico" Llewelyn Davies(1903-1980) died age 77
Nicholas, the youngest, was the only Llewelyn Davies boy who had a thoroughly happy life. However, because he outlived all his brothers, he had to witness all the sorrows. Not much is known about Nicholas' relationship with Barrie. After he graduated from college, he settled down with his wife, Mary James. Nicholas did maintain a relationship with Barrie until the latter's death in 1937. Nicholas died in 1980 at the age of 77. (photo 1975 above) In his later life he had spoken about his brother Michael, describing him as "the cleverest of us, the most original, the potential genius"
Faces of Peter Pan
 My Peter Pan Films
2003                                    2011                                      1991
2004                                 2003                                  1978
Finally from a Rock Musical version of Peter Pan

The numerous statues around the world

Peter Pan Nudes by Vittorio Carvelli
The Death of Peter Pan in Melbourne - an acclaimed Play by Barry Lowe directed by a friend, the sensational Robert Chuter.

The Queensland Ballet 'Peter Pan' 2015

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