“The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.” – J. M. Barrie
Born on May 9th, 1860, Sir James Matthew (J.M.) Barrie cemented his place in literary (and children's) history with his beloved novel and play Peter Pan. The play actually came first, in 1904, and with its success sparked the subsequent novel in 1911.
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.
The other interesting fact about Peter Pan is that it is credited for creating the now popular girl’s name of Wendy. Barrie’s heroine was inspired by a young girl named Margaret Henley, who was a friend of the family. Margaret always called Barrie “Friendly,” but like many young children, she could not say her “R’s” and "L's" very well. So her pronunciation came out as “Fwendy.” Barrie liked it and thus was born Wendy.
Known for his generosity as well as his creativity, Barrie willed the rights to all Peter Pan works to London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital – a medical facility that helped the impoverished. The hospital still benefits from those rights. “Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others,” he said, “cannot keep it from themselves.”