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Sir James Barrie

J.M. Barrie by Herbert Rose Barraud, 1892
J.M. Barrie by Herbert Rose Barraud, 1892
Born James Matthew Barrie
(1860-05-09)9 May 1860
Kirriemuir, Angus, Scotland
Died 19 June 1937(1937-06-19) (aged 77)
London, England
Resting place Kirriemuir Cemetery, Angus, Scotland
Occupation Novelist, playwright
Nationality Scottish
Citizenship British
Education Glasgow Academy
Forfar Academy
Dumfries Academy
Alma mater University of Edinburgh
Period Victorian, Edwardian
Genre Children's literature, drama, fantasy
Literary movement Kailyard school
Notable works The Little White Bird
Peter Pan
The Admirable Crichton
Mary Ansell (m. 1894–1909)
Children Guardian of the Llewelyn Davies boys

Sir James Matthew Barrie, 1st Baronet, OM ( 9 May 1860 – 19 June 1937) was a Scottish novelist and playwright, best remembered today as the creator of Peter Pan. He was born and educated in Scotland but moved to London, where he wrote a number of successful novels and plays. There he met the Llewelyn Davies boys, who inspired him to write about a baby boy who has magical adventures in Kensington Gardens (included in The Little White Bird), then to write Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up, a "fairy play" about an ageless boy and an ordinary girl named Wendy who have adventures in the fantasy setting of Neverland.

Although he continued to write successfully, Peter Pan overshadowed his other work, and is credited with popularising the name Wendy. Barrie unofficially adopted the Davies boys following the deaths of their parents. Barrie was made a baronet by George V on 14 June 1913, and a member of the Order of Merit in the 1922 New Year Honours. Before his death, he gave the rights to the Peter Pan works to Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London, which continues to benefit from them.


Barrie died of pneumonia on 19 June 1937 and was buried at Kirriemuir next to his parents and two of his siblings. His birthplace at 4 Brechin Road is maintained as a museum by the National Trust for Scotland.

He left the bulk of his estate to his secretary Cynthia Asquith, but excluding the rights to all Peter Pan works (which included The Little White Bird, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, the play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up and the novel Peter and Wendy), whose copyright he had previously given to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.


Barrie was appointed a baronet by King George V in 1913. He was made a member of the Order of Merit in 1922.

In 1919 he was elected Rector of the University of St Andrews for a three-year term. In 1922 he delivered his celebrated Rectorial Address on Courage at St Andrews, and visited University College Dundee with Earl Haig to open its new playing fields, with Barrie bowling a few balls to Haig. He served as Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh from 1930 to 1937.


Works by year

  • Better Dead (1887)
  • Auld Licht Idylls (1888)
  • When a Man's Single (1888)
  • A Window in Thrums (1889)
  • My Lady Nicotine (1890), republished in 1926 with the subtitle A Study in Smoke
  • The Little Minister (1891)
  • Richard Savage (1891)
  • Ibsen's Ghost (Toole Up-to-Date) (1891)
  • Walker, London (1892)
  • Jane Annie (opera), music by Ernest Ford, libretto by Barrie and Arthur Conan Doyle (1893)
  • A Powerful Drug and Other Stories (1893)
  • A Tillyloss Scandal (1893)
  • Two of Them (1893)
  • A Lady's Shoe (1894)
  • Life in a Country Manse (1894)
  • Scotland's Lament: A Poem on the Death of Robert Louis Stevenson (1895)
  • Sentimental Tommy, The Story of His Boyhood (1896)
  • Margaret Ogilvy (1896)
  • Jess (1898)
  • Tommy and Grizel (1900)
  • The Wedding Guest (1900)
  • The Boy Castaways of Black Lake Island (1901)
  • Quality Street (play) (1901)
  • The Admirable Crichton (play) (1902)
  • The Little White Bird, or Adventures in Kensington Gardens (1902)
  • Little Mary (1903)
  • Peter Pan (staged 1904)
  • Alice Sit-by-the-Fire (play) (1905)
  • Pantaloon (1905)
  • Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (1906)
  • What Every Woman Knows (play) (1908)
  • When Wendy Grew Up – An Afterthought (1908)
  • Peter and Wendy (novel) (1911)
  • Half an Hour (play) (1913)
  • Der Tag (The Tragic Man) (Short play) (1914)
  • Charles Frohman: A Tribute (1915)
  • A Kiss for Cinderella (1916)
  • Shakespeare's Legacy (1916)
  • Dear Brutus (1917) (play)
  • Mary Rose (1920)
  • The Author (1925)
  • Cricket (1926)
  • Peter Pan (stage play published) (1928)
  • The Greenwood Hat (1930)
  • Farewell Miss Julie Logan (1932)
  • The Boy David (1936)
  • M'Connachie and J. M. B. (1938)
  • When Wendy Grew Up: An Afterthought (1957)
  • The Reconstruction of the Crime (play), co-written with E.V. Lucas (undated, first published 2017)
  • Stories by English Authors: London (selected by Scribners, as contributor)
  • Stories by English Authors: Scotland (selected by Scribners, as contributor)
  • The Earliest Plays of J. M. Barrie: Bandelero the Bandit, Bohemia and Caught Napping, edited by R.D.S. Jack (2013)

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