The Real Peter Pan: The Tragic Life of Michael Llewelyn Davies by Piers Dudgeon

26114268Published: July 12th 2016 by: Thomas Dunne Books

Genres: Non-fiction, Biography

Format: Hardcover Source: Publisher

My Rating: 3 Stars 3STAR

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The world has long been captivated by the story of Peter Pan and the countless movies, plays, musicals, and books that retell the story of Peter, Wendy, and the Lost Boys. Now, in this revealing behind-the-scenes book, author Piers Dudgeon examines the fascinating and complex relationships among Peter Pan’s creator, J.M. Barrie, and the family of boys who inspired his work.

After meeting the Llewelyn Davies family in London’s Kensington Garden, Barrie struck up an intense friendship with the children and their parents. The innocence of Michael, the fourth of five brothers, went on to influence the creation of Barrie’s most famous character, Peter Pan. Barrie was so close to the Llewelyn Davies family that he became trustee and guardian to the boys following the deaths of their parents. Although the relationship between the boys and Barrie (and particularly between Barrie and Michael) was enduring, it was punctuated by the fiercest of tragedies. Throughout the heart-rending saga of Barrie’s involvement with the Llewelyn Davies brothers, it is the figure of Michael, the most original and inspirational of their number, and yet also the one whose fate is most pitiable, that stands out.

The Real Peter Pan is a captivating true story of childhood, friendship, war, love, and regret.


My Thoughts

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This is like a repeat of something already published. Not bad, but definitely not great either. I’m always looking to learn something new that was very much a part of my childhood, so it was nice getting some insight into the people who inspired Barrie.

For me this book crushes my childhood dreams of what Barrie intended his famous “Peter Pan” to be about. On the one hand, it’s great to get some insights into Barrie’s vision. On the other, if you wish to remain oblivious to the darkness of his vision, it’s best to avoid this book. The Real Peter Pan sheds light on Barrie’s relationships with Michael Davies, as well as his brothers and mother. In light of all of that, there are cliff notes and references that point to accounts already written. Again, nothing new.

This isn’t a bad book, but I could have just Googled most of the information that was gathered to pen this. I liked the pictures of Barrie and Micheal that are presented in this book, along with others who were close to them. There are questions about Michael’s sexuality that I found interesting, and just Barrie’s dark side that, if he were alive today, could be regarded as questionable. You have to ask yourself if you want to know the man behind one of your favorite stories. I’m kind of crushed that I now have these images of him in my head that, if I had researched myself, I would have found out eventually.

Does this book make Barrie seem like a bad guy? Not entirely, but I’m not one to judge a person. Especially when I don’t know them. Overall, this is a book that makes you think, and I can say that after reading it, I want to (maybe) know more. Only because I love this type of history. The other part of me wishes I had never read it. I’m just being honest. I can never look at Peter Pan as just a boy who never grew up, again.

13 thoughts on “The Real Peter Pan: The Tragic Life of Michael Llewelyn Davies by Piers Dudgeon

  1. My knowledge of Peter Pan ends at Disney and I could barely tolerate it (that probably stems from racism though..). I don’t think I need the behind the scenes.

    I hope youre taking care if yourself lady!!


  2. It would be sad to have the reality turn out so different from the impression created by the play. I’m curious about this darker, real story.


  3. Oh, I think this is an interesting insight; one that I could get behind. I’m always curious to see an author’s inspiration for creating their work. So even if it would break the rose-colored glasses I see them in, I’m always for it. And while I haven’t read Peter Pan (I know right?!), I think there’s a lot I could learn in terms of perspective.


  4. It’s interesting that you can get to see the history of the writer and the relationships that inspired the book. But it’s too bad that it didn’t offer anything new.
    I’m glad you enjoyed reading it though!
    Great review!


  5. This seems like a decent read, but maybe that you don’t need to buy the book to find out all the information. I do know the dark side behind the story of Peter Pan and it does kind of drain the fun from it, but I also really like to know and understand author’s intentions, so I don’t mind being aware too much.


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