Sir James Matthew Barrie was a late nineteenth century a Scottish writer. He prolifically wrote in the genre of novel and drama. His key work is considered to be the stage-play Peter Pan.
Born on 9 May 1860, in Kirriemuir, Angus, J. M. Barrie belonged to a conservative Calvinist family. He was a son of modestly successful weaver. He received his early education from The Glasgow Academy and Dumfries Academy. In fact, he was a voracious reader of the works of James Fenimore Cooper, R. M. Ballantyne and Penny Dreadfuls. Despite his earnest wish to become a writer, his family emotionally blackmailed him to pursue a worthwhile profession, for instance, ministry. However, he struck a bargain that he would receive higher education from a university with a major in literature. While studying at University of Edinburgh, he served as a drama reviewer for Edinburgh Evening Courant. In 1882, he earned his Masters of Arts degree.
Barrie worked at a number of newspapers as a journalist. He adapted his mother’s stories about the town Kirriemuir in his own series of stories which were published in St. James’s Gazette. The stories include, Auld Licht Idylls (1888) and A Window in Thrums (1890) that laid the groundwork for his first novel. After attaining success for Auld Lichts series, he self published his first novel Better Dead (1888). It failed to sell out, though his following works earned him success. His popular fiction works include, Sentimental Tommy (1896), A Window in Thrums (1889) and Tommy and Grizel (1900).
In the following years, Barrie directed his attention toward playwriting. He began writing for stage in 1890’s and his early works include a biography of Richard Savage that he co-wrote with H.B. Marriott Watson. Later, he produced a successful play Walker London (1892). It was a comedy that mocks and ridicules the institution of marriage. The irony is, two years after writing the play he got married himself to an actress, Mary Ansell. However, things did not pan out as he expected and they got divorced.
In 1980’s he happened to meet Llewelyn Davies brothers in London’s Kensington Gardens. The Davies brother served as a model for his legendary creation of Peter Pan. The character made its debut appearance in the book The Little White Bird (1902). Later he adapted the story into a play titled Peter Pan which garnered huge success after its first performance. The idea of a flying boy, stuck in his youth, in a magical Neverland world, fascinated the audience. Barrie penned several plays based on Peter Pan and adapted the play Peter and Wendy into a novel format.
Subsequent to receiving rave reviews for Peter Pan, he focused on plays for adult audience. Gradually, his plays resonated with dark themes and complex emotions. In 1910, he wrote The Twelve-Pound Look which explored the dynamics of an unhappy marriage. It was followed by another serious play Half an Hour (1913) about a woman’s unfaithfulness to her husband. One of his chief plays, Mary Rose (1920), illustrates the story of a boy visited by his mother’s ghost. He wrote his final play in 1936, entitled The Boy David, about the Biblical story of the young David and King Saul.
Sir James Matthew Barrie suffered from pneumonia in his last days which resulted in his death on June 19, 1937. He was buried at Kirriemuir in the same cemetery along with his parents and siblings.