Everyone knows Peter Pan. Everyone loves him. So everyone loves J.M. Barrie, too.
But the true story behind the book is much darker than you may imagine. The poignant film Finding Neverland popularized Barrie’s friendship with the Llewelyn-Davies family, examining the powerful relationships that brought Peter Pan into existence. Johnny Depp portrayed Barrie wonderfully, and Kate Winslet made a perfect Sylvia Llewelyn-Davies.
Barrie was a constant companion to Sylvia and her boys, despite the fact that both he and Sylvia were married to other people. Some people have argued that Barrie was a pedophile, to explain his close relationship with the Llewelyn-Davies boys – a nasty accusation, as there were no grounds for it.
Nico Llewelyn-Davies stated that Barrie NEVER behaved inappropriately. He said, “I don’t believe that Uncle Jim ever experienced what one might call a ‘stirring in the undergrowth’ for anyone – man, woman or child. He was an innocent, which is why he could write Peter Pan.”
Sylvia died when the boys were young, and Barrie became a guardian to them. His relationship with them continued well past their childhood, but the story that begins to unfold at the end of Finding Neverland is actually a very sad one. George Llewelyn-Davies was killed in action in WWI, in 1915. Michael drowned in 1921, with his friend and possible lover, Rupert Buxton. Peter died by throwing himself in front of a train.
“God gave us memories that we might have roses in December.” – J.M. Barrie