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Peter Pan

Literary Hero

Born: 1902
Birthplace: Fiction
Best known as:

Fanciful boy hero of Peter Pan

Peter Pan is the mischievous hero of J.M. Barrie's 1904 play Peter Pan. Peter is "the boy who never grew up," a fantastical figure who visits the bedroom of the Darling children (Wendy, John and Michael) and flies them away to Neverland. There the children meet Peter's loyal troupe of lost boys, and have adventures and battles with the nefarious Captain Hook. The character of Peter went through several versions, from a 1902 book The Little White Bird to Barrie's hugely successful 1904 play. Barrie published the story as prose in 1911, under the title of Peter and Wendy. In 1953, Walt Disney made a hit animated movie out of a cleaned up version the story, and a 1954 Broadway musical version of the play earned a Tony award for Mary Martin, who played Peter. In films Peter has been played by Jeremy Sumpter (Peter Pan, 2003) and Robin Williams (Hook, 1991) among many others. Peter Pan is also the star of  a series of adventure stories for children by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, starting with Peter and the Starcatcher (2004).

Extra credit:

Peter Pan is assisted by a tiny fairie named Tinkerbell, who carries a lighted wand; she has become one of the signature figures of the Walt Disney empire... Late singer Michael Jackson called his extravagant California ranch "Neverland"... In Barrie's story, Peter tells Wendy he lives "Second to the right, then straight on till morning." In some productions this has been changed to "Second star to the right, then straight on till morning"... Peter is usually played onstage by women, a tradition started with the original 1904 production; gymnast Cathy Rigby and actress Sandy Duncan played the role often later in the 20th century... In 1929, Barrie donated the rights to Peter Pan to London's Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children.

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