Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens

>>  Friday, November 20, 2015

I love Peter Pan, the play, the story, even the ride in Disney. I always have.

I used to read constantly in my younger days, but now I have so little time. But The Complete Peter Pan was always going to draw me in and there I sat with a bowl of nuts for company.

We all know 'The' Peter Pan story, Peter and Wendy.

But the book I had was 'The Complete' Peter Pan and there is a very different story about him in this book called Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.

It was originally part of a book called The Little White Bird and it was the first time Peter Pan 'came to life'.  The chapters about Peter were then published independently.  It is a beautiful story.  

There are elements of it that you can see fed into the Peter and Wendy we all know but it is not a prequel, not even close, it is a completely different story and it is so cleverly imaginative in a simple way.

Peter is only seven days old when he leaves his mother.  All babies start as birds and Peter had the itch where his wings were and flew back to the island where his life started.

The story begins about the children in the park before the gates are locked and is absurdly innocent in the things they believe about different parts of the park, beautiful games children play with their minds, but the story moves to after the gates are locked and the birds, fairies and of course Peter.  Peter loses the ability to fly and gains a boat, he manages to get back to his mother and leaves her again.  In the end he loses her completely.

Some parts are funny:

'The Gardens are noted for two types of cricket: boy cricket, which is the real cricket with a bat, and girl cricket, which is with a racquet and the governess.  Girls can't really play cricket, and when you are watching their futile efforts you make funny sounds at them.  Nevertheless, there was a very disagreeable incident one day when some forward girl challenged David's team, and a disturbing creature called Angela Clare sent down so many yonkers that.....'

Some parts of the book touched me so deeply.

Solomon Caw sends the baby birds to become real babies.
'...a message from a lady, saying she would be obliged if he could let her have a good one.  They always ask for the best one he has, and if he likes the letter he sends one from Class A, but if it ruffles him he sends very funny ones indeed. Sometimes he sends none at all....'

Peter loses his mother for good.
'Ah, Peter! We who have made the great mistake, how differently we should all act at the second chance. But Solomon was right - there is no second chance, not for most of us.When we reach the window it is Lock-out time. The iron bars are up for life' 

The beautiful House Swallows.
'but he has still a vague memory that he was a human once, and it makes him especially kind to the house swallows when they visit the island, for the house swallows are the spirits of little children who have died.  They always build in the eaves of the houses where they lived when they were humans, and sometimes they try to fly in at a nursery window, and perhaps that is why Peter loves them best of all the birds.'

And the thimble given to Peter by Maimie as a kiss followed by the kisses they have called thimbles.
I would like to be given a thimble.

As I said, it is a beautiful story, I think it is a story for adults not children.  Maybe because I am an adult I do not understand how a child would understand it but perhaps they don't need to understand, in the way they don't have to understand the fairies, they just accept they are there.

Cog and I spent a lovely afternoon wandering around Kensington Gardens once.  I wish we had read this story first. I will go back and try to find a fairy circle but Cog will never be that age again where she would have be as excited as I am now.  She will have to be my age I think to get back to that.

She understands the Peter Pan with pirates but not the Peter Pan that rides a goat, or more importantly how he got a goat to ride. But I know now

The Complete Peter Pan is published by Alma Classics, it includes Peter and Wendy, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, Peter Pan the play and extra information about the writer, books and characters. 

J M Barrie gave all the rights to Peter Pan to Great Ormond Street Hospital.  Since then the hospital has received royalties every time a production of the play is put on, as well as from the sale of Peter Pan books and other products.

I was given this book for free so I made a donation to to the Great Ormond Street Christmas appeal directly.


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