The Life and Times of a busy bookseller, her husband and Gordon setter dogs in North Norfolk.

Thursday 19 March 2015

The History of Peter Pan - and some interesting ephemera

I recently bought some interesting ephemera along with a tatty 1st edition of the hardback copy of Peter Pan and Wendy, and a much nicer 3rd impression of the same title. However out of all of it it was the ephemera that interested me most - I always like the bits and pieces! It will all be for sale in time, but first I like to have a good dig around and find out what I can.

Although having his first mention in Barries 'The Little White Bird' in 1902,as a "book-within-a-book", Peter Pan in his own right was originally a play. It was later adapted into the 1911 novel Peter and Wendy.

Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up or Peter and Wendy is J. M. Barrie's most famous work, in the form of a 1904 play and a 1911 novel published by Hodder & Stoughton.  The original book contains a frontispiece and 11 half-tone plates by artist F. D. Bedford. Both versions tell the story of Peter Pan, a mischievous little boy who can fly, and his adventures. Barrie continued to revise the play for years after its debut until publication of the play script in 1928.

The first stage version opened at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London on 27 December 1904,
 with Nina Boucicault daughter of playwright Dion Boucicault, in the title role. It was seen as  absolutely original — the product of a unique imagination. The play proved so popular, it was re-staged every year for the next 10 years.

The Peter Pan Picture Book (sometimes entitled The Story of Peter Pan), retold by Daniel O'Connor, illustrated by Alice B. Woodward was first published in 1907 based on this original stage production of 1904

 A Broadway production was mounted in 1905 starring Maude Adams. It was later revived with such actresses as Marilyn Miller and Eva Le Gallienne. The play has since been adapted as a pantomime, stage musical, a television special, and several films, including a 1924 silent film, Disney 1953 animated full-length feature film, and a 2003 live action production.

Stage productions
The original stage production took place at the Duke of York's Theatre London, on 27 December 1904. It starred Gerald du Maurier as Captain Hook and Mr Darling, and Nina Boucicault as Peter.
Members of Peter's Band were Joan Burnett (Tootles), Christine Silver (Nibs), A. W. Baskcomb (Slightly), Alice DuBarry (Curly), Pauline Chase (1st twin), Phyllis Beadon (2nd twin). Besides du Maurier, the pirates were: George Shelton (Smee), Sidney Harcourt (Gentleman Starkey), Charles Trevor (Cookson), Frederick Annerley (Cecco), Hubert Willis (Mullins), James English (Jukes), John Kelt (Noodler). Philip Darwin played Great Big Little Panther, Miriam Nesbitt was Tiger Lily, and Ela Q. May played Liza, (credited ironically as "Author of the Play"). First Pirate was played by Gerald Malvern, Second Pirate by J. Grahame, Black Pirate by S. Spencer, Crocodile by A. Ganker & C. Lawton, and the Ostrich by G. Henson. (Reference -  Wikepdia).

Cecilia Loftus played Peter in the 1905–1906 production. Pauline Chase took the role from the 1906–07 London season until 1914 while Zena Dare was Peter on tour during most of that period. Jean Forbes-Robertson became a well-known Pan in London in the 1920s and 1930s.

I give the brief outline above to explain just where this ephemera fits into the story of the development of Peter Pan and Wendy.

The items I have are as follows:

1. An eight page, stapled typewritten script for Peter Pan part of (Noodles) Noodler. Three pages of dialogue in blue stapled sugar paper type covers. The Typed Name NOODLES is pencil crossed out and Noodler handwritten in pencil underneath. Likewise on the front inside page the name NOODLES is crossed out and replaced with Noodler.  The page is stamped Mrs. Marshall's Type Writing Office/Nov/ 126, Strand W.C.

I have been looking at the existence of Mrs Marshalls Type Writing Office, and it is clear that they did a great deal of typing for play writes of their day - in particular Oscar Wilde. The majority of the work I can find done by them at this address appears to be between 1894 - 1905, and so my best guesstimate at dating this item would therefore with be that it was done for the 1st performance, but as yet have had no other way than that - and of course the change of name of Noodles to Noodler, to establish this.

2. A typed letter, addressed Duke of York's Theatre, September 27th, 1905. Sent from and signed by Actor Manager Dion Boucicault, brother of Nina Boucicault first to play the title role in the Play Peter Pan. The accompanying letter says that this leeter is addressed to Eric Forbes-Robertson ie John Kelt who took the part of Noodler in the original production (another indication that the typescript is from the first production). I can only presume there was originally an envelope present that showed this, but it is not present now, and there is no indication who the letter is to as it just says dear Sir.However the letter does ask on behalf of J M barrie (author) and Charles Frohman (original producer)  that all those in ORIGINAL PRODUCTION of Peter Pan should have the opportunity of re-engagement should they so desire ....

3. A 3 fold flier for Peter Pan at the Duke of York's theatre, St Martin's Lane - debut theatre for Peter Pan in 1904. It isn't dated, but has Pauline Chase as Peter - she was Peter between 1906 - 1914. It also says 'Approaching 300th performance in London'.


4. A Letter from Jean, niece of E Forbes-Robertson (see 2) saying 'I'm so looking forward to being in Peter Pan again@ - it is undated but she first took the role in 1927 and repeated it again until 1935 and again in 1938 - 39. The letter is addressed .

5. A Letter from Ida Forbes-Robertson to Janina-Forbes Robertson (the daughter to the wife of Eric) - saying that Mrs Barrie told her that she always watched Eric when she was at Peter pan, and told her friends to do so as well. It aslo said that Mr Barrie, when he passed through listened to him (Eric aka John Kelt) at a rehearsal and was much struck with him.  Here the letter gets a bit blurry but refers to him 'not engaging someone for Captain Hook in the Manchester Production'. The letter is stamped 98 Picasilly, and is in an envelope with 'Important letter from Ida' on the front.

6. There is a quantity of Barrie press cuttings and obituaries dated June 1937, and a couple of cuttings dated 1925 & 1927. Also a flier for Peter pan , c 1913, which includes Noel coward in the cast list.

Quite an interesting collection to illustrate the history of this work.  If you are interested - either with information or in purchasing, you can contact us at

Sunday 23 February 2014

Quick Update on Social Networking

I am only too well aware that I have been neglecting my blog once again. I don't intend to ignore it permanently - its just that once again, events have overtaken me - book fairs, a brief hospital session (nothing major), just life in general - life mainly equating to work. However I do try to keep in touch with both friends and customers via social network.  I had avoided facebook for a long time, thinking it was a bit daft - just telling people that you had gone out shopping etc. As usual, this was a matter of ignorance on my part, and I have found there is a great deal more to facebook if I had just taken the time and trouble to find out.  As usual, I haven't the time to explore it fully - I can get so easily side traced - there are so many interesting groups on there. Only today I got side tracked looking at one showing all sorts of interesting pictures and people sharing their memories of Wells-Next-the-Sea - one of my favourite walking places, and communities, under 10 miles from here.  Anyway, I digress, it is also a very handy place for me to drop into to let people know, in brief, just what I am up to, and what Peakirk Books are doing.  We have 2 site pages on there - but they are very much intertwined - mainly because when I find interesting articles I want to share with Peakirk Books people, I cant always manage to get them to go onto the Peakirk Books page - and they end up on the Heather Lawrence page.  (as ever my IT skills leave much to be desired). Thus it is always worth looking at both pages, as items are not always where they should be.

To find me on face book, my face book page is (or should be) -

the Peakirk Books page is (or should be

A 'like' on our Peakirk Books page is always appreciated. :-)

This is still the place for more in depth pieces, and I hope to have more time to write more for the blog again when time permits.  Until then, I hope to see you on facebook - oh, and I also tweet! Heather@peakirkbooks  think).

Monday 30 September 2013

York National Book Fair 2013

As usual, despite being well aware that York Fair was coming, and even managing to put a few items on the York Website, the Fair seemed to suddenly creep up on us, and we suddenly found ourselves frantically packing boxes of books and trying to decide just what we should take with us.

Once loaded up and on our way, the journey took just under 4 hours, and we were soon unpacking the same boxes of books onto our usual stand on the mezzanine.  It was good to see some of our usual neighbours from years gone by,  and have a chat. It took some hours to get the stand set up, and then it was off to our lodgings for a nights sleep. When I looked at my iPad to check on internet orders, I saw an urgent request for a book that we had luckily brought with us to York. The customer wanted it posted the next day, to arrive on the Saturday as a 30th birthday present.  Obviously, although we had the book, we didn't have all our packing equipment etc. and no knowledge of local post offices, but as it was for a special occasion, wanted to help.

Next morning it was back to York Race Course for the book fair. The first thing we did was get the code for our iPad so we could communicate with the customer who wanted the book sending. We got a postal address and Jeff dashed off to find a post office and negotiate for a special special delivery that would guarantee postage delivered on a Saturday and a decent Jiffy Bag.  He managed to get back for the beginning of the fair.

It always takes a little while for customers to start finding their way up the stairs, but they soon started to filter upwards, and we began to see some new and some familiar faces find their way to our stand. It was especially lovely for us to meet a Scottish customer of ours, who we have dealt with for years, and who had decided to come and meet us face to face, by coming to this fair, staying overnight and returning to Scotland the next day. I do hope she didn't find us too disappointing. For our part, we thought she was delightful.

This book fair is the largest in the UK, and some people find it tiring and a bit overwhelming. Many come for both days in an attempt to get round it all.  There appear to be lots of satisfied customers. We saw lots of people walking round with bags, stuck down with the famous security tags. We certainly sold quite a few books I am pleased to say, as did our fellow stall holders.  At the end of the 2 days, I'm not sure who were the more tired, the customers who had been trudging around concentrating on all the books, or the stand holders who had spent 2 days talking and working. However most seemed happy. Then it was back to dismantling the stall and the 4 hour drive home, but some had further to go than us. One dealer came from Aberdeen, anorexic from Cornwall, so our 4 hour drive was quite local.

I enjoy the York fairs, both this one and the January one, which although a bit smaller being just 1 floor, is always a successful one too.the atmosphere is usually good, the people friendly and the fair a pleasant event. Hope t see you soon.

As yet I haven't worked out how to transfer my pictures onto here, so I shall put them on Peakirk Books Facebook page for now if you want a look.

Friday 23 August 2013

Collecting Ephemera

I know, I have been slow to blog again. It could be to do with work, work, work,  that and trying to keep up with the never ending round of social networking with social media. I now not only tweet - as one does on twitter, but have a facebook page, and a Peakirk book facebook page to maintain ( - please please 'like' it if you have a moment, it means I get extra information from the people who run it!).  I am also well and truly 'Linked in' - oh what a social networking whirl, how did I ever manage before with pen and ink and the boring old telephone. However, for business reasons, I am told, one has to do these things, so I try my best, and trail along behind 'tweeting' and 'poking' and anything else I should be doing to generally make a nuisance of myself and generally get me and Peakirk Books noticed.  I'm not convinced it works, but with so much competition out there in the book selling world, you have to do your best. Meanwhile, my poor old Blog has been neglected.

During the summer there have been fewer book fairs to attend, although, starting with the large international one in York, they will soon be back in full swing. However it is the time when Vintage Paper Girls and our ephemera make more of an appearance at Fakenham Market - the flea market on a Thursday, in the car park near Argos for those who know it!  As ephemera is paper based we have to anxiously watch the weather forecast every week to see whether we can attend. Rain, damp or excess windy weather does not mix with paper on the stand. Knowing how accurate the weather forecasts are (cough, splutter) we spend an anxious Wednesday deciding whether to pack up the car or not, before making our way to the stall on a Thursday, bright and early.

When I tell people that I have a new string to my bow, in the business sense, and that is the selling of ephemera, a puzzled look crosses most of their brows.  It's often a word that they have heard before, but are not sure just what it is. Sometimes they ask, sometimes they try to just look knowledgeable, but unless I am talking to people in the book trade, most people don't know just what ephemera is - and its quite difficult to explain. I believe the Ephemera Society call it broadly 'the minor transient documents of everyday life' - but I suspect if I quoted that, most people wouldn't be a great deal clearer. It includes the many thousands of printed and handwritten oddments that civilisation emits daily -  tickets, receipts, menus, pamphlets, brochures, letterheads, ............daily living in scraps of paper. As we live, we produce paper, in both handwritten and printed formats. We produce lists, keep records, write reports, send cards, produce certificates, send bills, invoices & receipts, we advertise, we produce newspapers, magazines, journals, comics,information sheets.

Some paper is produced to last minutes, some a day, some longer. Most pieces are quite transient. Some are produced quite basically and dully. Some are produced quite beautifully and decoratively.Most are somewhere in between.

In the more recent past, the layman & general collector has begun to join the academic student such as the graphic designer and the social historian, in acquiring and appreciating ephemera. 1975 saw the founding of The Ephemera Society (London) - and as the subject is so vast, they have had exhibitions themed on ephemera divided into certain areas eg their fifth Annual Exhibition featured items from collections from 60 of their members based on Transport and Travel. Under the title 'Going Places' the exhibition included paper fragments from the age of the stage coach to Space Exploration.

It included Baggage Labels, resort stickers, travel folders, posters, handbills, ship-board menus, passenger lists, airline boarding cards, stagecoach tickets, hotel brochures, touring maps, postcards, passports, timetables, broadsides, travel orientated toys & games, confectionary wrappers, cigar labels and much much more.

These little scraps of paper, put together, tell a story. Some are ordinary, some are quite beautiful. Some are common, some remarkably scarce - after all, they certainly weren't meant to last.  Many certainly tell a story.   We find them fascinating - and we have lots of them for sale on our stand - in Fakenham, and soon in Kings Lynn at the flea Market there on September 7th  and back in Norwich at St. Andrews Hall on September 14th. Hope to see some of you there soon.

Friday 5 July 2013

Peakirk Books July Sale

Peakirk Books are now having a July Sale - on our own site at

This is valid on all books EXCEPT Girls Gone By and Elsie Oxenham Society Published ones. This means 99.5% of all our stock is eligible.

To take advantage of this use the Code TREAT at the checkout and you will get a 20% discount for all of July 2013.

You can use this code as many times as you wish during the month of July.