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Great Science-Fiction
& Fantasy Works

science-fiction & fantasy literature:
a critical list with discussions

Science-Fiction and Fantasy Books by
J. M. Barrie

Standard Disclaimer:

This is a brief discussion of J. M. Barrie and, of course, of some speculative-fiction books by J. M. Barrie

This discussion and list does not necessarily include every book by Barrie: it includes only those books that I both know and like. Just as with the author list itself, omission of a particular item may mean I didn't think highly enough of the omitted item, or it may simply mean that I have not yet sufficient familiarity with it. (In a very few cases, I have listed some books merely on the strength of my opinion of the author: all such books are clearly marked below, as throughout these lists, with a hash mark (#) before the title so you know what's what.)

I don't pretend that this discussion is a deep analysis. My intent is no more than to give you a rough idea of what kinds of tales Barrie tells, how those tales are usually told, and what makes them and Barrie worthy; in sum, to help you rank Barrie (and the works by Barrie listed here) on your personal literary "to do" list.

A Few Words About J. M. Barrie

Regrettably, I have not yet had an opportunity to write an essay on this author, but the "Other Resources" section below will lead you to some information about the "Notable Books" listed farther down this page.


Other J. M. Barrie Resources

J. M. Barrie Resources on the Web

Peter Pan being so stupendously well known, it is not surprising that there are numerous Barrie sites and pages. The foremost dedicated sites include ANON: the J. M. Barrie Society's Homepage; the plainly titled site; and Sir James Matthew Barrie (a site by David Skipper, who plays Barrie in a one-man stage show).

Of the seemingly countless individual pages, perhaps the most utile are J. M. Barrie at the unfailing Author's Calendar site; James M. Barrie at The Literature Network; J.M Barrie and Peter Pan by Terri Windling in the Winter 2005 issue of the Mythic Journal; "Lost Boys: Why J. M. Barrie created Peter Pan" by Anthony Lane in The New Yorker; and "Conan Doyle and James M. Barrie" at The Chronicles of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

An especially interesting--if in a morbid way--aspect of Barrie's life was explored in Piers Dudgeon's book Captivated (subtitled The Dark Side of Never Never Land); it received and various extensive reviews, with corollary comments on its subject, from (at least) Justine Picardie in the Telegraph, Frances Wilson in The Sunday Times, Tony Rennell in the Mail, and an anonymous reviewer in The Scotsman. In connection with that topic, worth examining for a credible-sounding summary is Cecil Adams' column "Was the author of Peter Pan a pedophile?"

That is not even close to an exhaustive list of even the longer online articles concerning Barrie, but I reckon it's quite enough to be going along with. For more, as always Google Is Your Friend.

J. M. Barrie Resources in Print

Among the many out there are these:

  • J. M. Barrie and the Lost Boys: The Real Story Behind Peter Pan, by Andrew Birkin

  • The Peter Pan Chronicles: The Nearly 100 Year History of "the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up" by Bruce K. Hanson

  • Captivated: The Dark Side of Never Never Land, by Piers Dudgeon

  • J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan, In and Out of Time: A Children's Classic at 100 , Donna R. White and C. Anita Tarr, editors

  • Barrie: The Story of a Genius, by J. A. Hammerton

  • The Story of J.M.B. (Sir James Barrie), by Denis Mackail

  • Fifty Years of Peter Pan, by R. L. Green

  • Portrait of Barrie, by Cynthia Asquith

  • J. M. Barrie, by R. L. Green

  • J. M. Barrie: The Man Behind the Image, by Janet Dunbar

  • The Case of Peter Pan, by J. Rose

  • J. M. Barrie, by Leonée Ormond

  • J. M. Barrie: The Magic Behind Peter Pan, by Susan Bivin Aller

  • Peter Pan: The Story of Lost Childhood, by Kathleen Kelley-Laine

  • Hide-and-Seek with Angels: A Life of J. M. Barrie, by Lisa Chaney

There is also a curiosity, a quasi-biographical novel The Thursday Book: A tale of JM Barrie and the real lost boys by Rodrigo Fresan (translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer), which sounds quite interesting: "a generous, rambling novel that owes a great deal to the magic-realist tradition, with its interlinked stories, improbable events and exaggerated coincidences. Full of allusions, wordplay and jokes . . . Fresan is a brilliant writer . . . ." (Michael Eaude in The Independent.)

Notable Science-Fiction and Fantasy Books by J. M. Barrie **

  • The Peter Pan Tales:
    The character "Peter Pan" first appeared in an 1902 adult novel by Barrie titled "The Little White Bird", in which Peter Pan is described in a story told to a child. In 1904, Barrie wrote the famous play, "Peter Pan"; in 1906, a prose text--like the original description but quite unlike the play--was published under the title Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens; in 1911, he turned the play into a book called Peter and Wendy, which is now usually just called Peter Pan and is the widely known form of the tale. As with most "children's books", publishers repeatedly show their veneration for a classic by chopping it up or dumbing it down, or both; don't ask me how, or why, you "dumb down" a book meant for, and very successful with, small children--ask a publisher.

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