“Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” – J.M. Barrie
The author of more than 50 books and plays, Barrie -- who was born in May of 1860 -- cemented his place in literary (and children's) history with his beloved play and novel Peter Pan, written in the early 1900s.
Invented by Barrie to entertain George and Jack Davies, the children of a close friend, Peter Pan was named for the boys’ younger brother Peter, who Barrie claimed knew how to fly. Peter Pan quickly overshadowed his previous works and everything else that followed, even though many of his writings, especially his plays, were quite successful. And he always said that without the inspiration of the Davies boys he never would have written the story at all.
Barrie's Peter Pan also is credited for creating the girl’s name Wendy. Barrie’s heroine was inspired by Margaret Henley, a friend of the family. Margaret always called Barrie “Friendly,” but like many young kids could not say her “R’s” and "L's" very well. So her pronunciation came out as “Fwendy.” Barrie liked the sound of that and thus was born the name Wendy.
Barrie unofficially adopted the Davies boys following the deaths of their parents and gave many of his proceeds from the Peter Pan book and play toward their upbringing. After they were grown and he was gravely ill, he willed the rights to Peter Pan to London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital – a medical facility known for helping the impoverished.
The hospital continues to benefit and thus, like Peter, the boy who never grew up, Barrie’s creative spirit – and that “sunshine” of which he spoke in his quote above – lives on through the lives his generosity touches each and every day. As Barrie once noted, "Always be a little kinder than necessary."
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