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

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Born In Essex, UK.
School in Luton.
College - Sussex.
Worked in Cambs.
Now Living in 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