Neverland: J. M. Barrie, the Du Mauriers, and the Dark Side of Peter Pan
The untold story behind Peter Pan: The shocking account of J. M. Barrie's abuse and exploitation of the du Maurier family.
In his revelatory Neverland, Piers Dudgeon tells the tragic story of J. M. Barrie and the Du Maurier family. Driven by a need to fill the vacuum left by sexual impotence, Barrie sought out George du Maurier, Daphne du Maurier’s grandfather (author of the famed Trilby), who specialized in hypnosis. Barrie’s fascination and obsession with the Du Maurier family is a shocking study of greed and psychological abuse, as we observe Barrie as he applies these lessons in mind control to captivate George’s daughter Sylvia, his son Gerald, as well as their children―who became the inspiration for the Darling family in Barrie’s immortal Peter Pan.
Barrie later altered Sylvia’s will after her death so that he could become the boys’ legal guardian, while pushing several members of the family to nervous breakdown and suicide. Barrie’s compulsion to dominate was so apparent to those around him that D. H. Lawrence once wrote: J. M Barrie has a fatal touch for those he loves. They die.
16 pages of black-and-white photographs
up to and beyond his death in 1907. They continued to conceive children long after Barrie entered the scene. Both so beautiful and in love in 1892 when they married, Sylvia and Arthur had seemed the embodiment of the romantic ideal. That both should die young had been a tragedy that went beyond their individual loss. So, how had Barrie’s intervention in their lives brought Sylvia to such self-centredness that she could persecute her husband, and turn to wearing her children ‘as other women wear
ghosts of queens or prelates, but one that keeps step, as soft as snow, with some poor student. He sometimes catches sight of it. That is why his fellows can never quite touch him, their best beloved; he half knows something of which they know nothing – the secret that is hidden in the face of the Mona Lisa. As I see him, life is so beautiful to him that its proportions are monstrous. Perhaps his childhood may have been overful of gladness; they don’t like that. If the seekers were kind he is the
from the window of Rebecca’s bedroom, looking out through a sea mist over ‘the little clearing where the satyr [Pan] plays his pipes . . .’ Rebecca’s spirit is the supernatural ‘spirit of a boy’, untouchable, none other than Jim’s demon boy. And finally we realise Daphne’s purpose in writing Rebecca. She is writing Jim’s demon boy into her life. Mrs de Winter has a dream. She is writing letters in the morning room of Manderley. She looks down at what she has written and notices that it is not
Barries’ second son David was born. He showed exceptional promise and much was expected of him. There was only one position higher than teacher in the mind of Margaret Ogilvy – and that was minister; nothing less would be good enough for David, who was the apple of her eye. Margaret’s hopes for him turned him into something of a legend. No doubt Jamie was fed up with hearing about him. The tenth child, Margaret, known as Maggie, was born three years after Jamie, in 1863 – she was Jamie’s
own eyes would start an ineffable twinkle.’1 Another favourite was Barrie’s ‘Mind That Post!’ story: A relatively poorly-off couple had been married for thirty or more years in happy times together. The time came when the wife died – all solemnity and customary mourning – undertaker – put in coffin – gently carried downstairs and out through the front garden towards the hearse. Taking the coffin out of the garden it struck a post of the garden gate. This seemed to stir the dead lady as there