James Matthew Barrie was born in Kirriemuir in Angus in North East Scotland in 1860. His father was a weaver. He was one of nine children, though two died before he was born and Barrie’s brother David died in an ice-skating accident the day before Barrie’s fourteenth birthday. Barrie tried to comfort his mother by wearing his dead brother’s clothes, whistling as his brother used to and taking on his mannerisms.
Barrie’s most famous work is of course Peter Pan, and it’s said that his mother took comfort from the fact that his dead brother David would never grow up and leave her.
He went to school Glasgow, then Forfar then Dumfries in Scotland. He studied literature at Edinburgh and wrote drama reviews for the local Edinburgh newspaper. He graduated with an MA in 1882.
He went to work as a journalist in Nottingham, in England and wrote stories which he submitted to journals. Some fo them were accepted.
His short stories and novels were received with what are politely known as mixed reviews.
Barrie started writing plays and was drawn to the theatre. He married and moved to London, living in South Kensington. It was his habit to take walks in Kensington Gardens.
Unfortunately for Barrie, his wife had an affair with a younger man and they were divorced in 1909. Apparently, Barrie was heartbroken. Even though she had left him, he gave her an allowance every year even after she married her lover.
Peter Pan was first performed just after Christmas, on 27 December in 1904. He invented the girls' name Wendy, apparently because a girl called Margaret Henley called Barrie ‘friendy’ but lisped her rs, making it sound like ‘fwendy.’ Apparently.
An interesting fact is that Barrie was only 5 foot 3 inches.
He gave the copyright of Peter Pan to the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children and they continue to get royalties from Peter Pan.
He was made a baronet in 1913 by King George V, and became Sir J M Barrie
Barrie died in London in 1937 aged 77 and was buried in his home village of Kirriemuir with his family.
He has two schools named after him, the Sir James Barrie Primary School in Wandsworth, London and the Barrie School in Silver Spring, Maryland.
This story is very short and intentionally so because I felt I deserved a rest after the marathon that was The Turn Of The Screw.
It's a neat little story and falls into the tradition of ghosts that weren't ghosts. I tend to prefer stories about ghosts that actually were ghosts, but there is an honourable tradition of stories that debunk the supernatural. Of course, Scooby Doo is the most famous example of this kind of story, but you will remember that The Open Door by Charlotte Riddell is mostly a debunking story, though the door is left open (ha ha!) to the possibility that as well as the fraud, there may have been a ghost there as well.
And of course Wilkie Collin's The Woman in White is about a ghost who turns out to be a con-trick.
A briar is a pipe used for smoking tobacco. The only other mystery is the hint that his room, when he awoke on Christmas Day smelled of tobacco. his recollection of going to fetch his briar from his coat downstairs is a bit hazy, but what does this smell of tobacco suggest? I missed this. Does it mean the he had a sleep-smoke? Or that there was a ghost?? I don't get it, Ted.
Thanks for listening.
Listen again soon.
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Start Music: “Some Come Back” by the Heartwood Institute, Check our their new release for Halloween, Witch Season.
End Music: “The Ferryman” by Dvoynik