J.M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, was a very creepy individual. He was portrayed as a kind and caring man by Johnny Depp in 2004’s Finding Neverland, but was that portrayal historically accurate? According to some evidence, Barrie may have preyed on young children.
Here are 5 reasons why Barrie’s true nature is questioned.
1. Barrie stole another couple’s children
According to Piers Dudgeon, the author of Captivated: J.M. Barrie, the Du Mauriers & the Dark Side of Neverland, Barrie forced his way into the lives of Sylvia and Arthur Llewelyn Davies, the parents of three boys, George, Jack and Peter. Barrie gave many gifts to the family and spent hours playing outside with the boys and making up stories.
Arthur and Sylvia eventually died of cancer within a couple years of each other, and Barrie took guardianship of the boys. In case any relatives of the boys protested, he had Sylvia’s will forged, giving him custody. Oddly, the family never tried to take custody of the children away from Barrie. It seemed the family had no idea of who Barrie truly was. After much time passed, Peter gave this statement about Barrie taking custody of him and his brothers, “The whole business, as I look back on it, was almost unbelievably queer and pathetic and ludicrous and even macabre in a kind of way.”
2. Barrie’s relationship with the boys
Barrie loved taking photographs of the boys, sometimes in weird costumes and often with no clothes on. In Today’s world, many would automatically suspect him as a pedophile for doing that. However, Barrie only showed an innocent front to the adults around him, which is why nobody ever suspected him of anything.
Barrie once wrote about the joy of undressing and sleeping next to a young boy. Barrie’s book, The Little White Bird, published in 1902, talked of his close relationship with George. “I lay thinking of this little boy, who, in the midst of his play while I undressed him, had suddenly buried his head on my knees… Of David’s dripping little form in the bath, and how I essayed to catch him as he slipped from my arms like a trout. Of how I had stood at the open door listening to his sweet breathing, had stood so long I forgot his name.”
3. The Creepy Candle Letter
In June 1908, Barrie wrote this strange letter to Michael for his eighth birthday, “I wish I could be with you and your candles. You can look on me as one of your candles, the one that burns badly — the greasy one that is bent in the middle. But still, hurray, I am Michael’s candle. Dear Michael, I am very fond of you, but don’t tell anybody.”
4. Barrie’s Impotency
Piers Dudgeon, Barrie’s Biographer, suggests the author was impotent and most likely never satisfied his wife sexually. Mary Ansell, wrote this about her husband, “Love in its fullest sense could never be felt by him or experienced.” The couple eventually divorced after Mary had an affair with one of Barrie’s friends.
5. The Deaths of the 3 Boys
During World War 1, George died in Belgium from a gunshot to the head. Many historians think George tried to escape Barrie by volunteering to serve in the war, but sadly it did not work out.
At 21 years of age, Michael drowned along with another young male, who was his lover. Many biographers think this was a suicide pact.
In 1960, at the age of 63, Peter threw himself under a moving train. He did this shortly after destroying almost all the letters from Barrie to the Davies boys, and said they were simply “too much.”