More to J.M. Barrie than Peter Pan

Published: 27 May 2014

J.M. Barrie is most well known for being the author of Peter Pan. However, there is much more to him as a new book shows.

J.M. Barrie is most well known for being the author of Peter Pan.  However, there is much more to him as a new book, aptly launched this week in Dumfries - the Birthplace of Peter Pan - shows.

Gateway to the Modern: Resituating J. M. Barrie is a compendium of essays about Barrie which provides the reader with an overview of the range of his literary achievement over his lifetime.

Valentina Bold, Reader in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, Dumfries and Editor of the book, said “Gateway to the Modern sets out to challenge the claim that Barrie’s reputation rests on one work: Peter Pan.  He has been unjustly neglected by most modern critics--this despite the fact that his work was original, innovative and challenging, in fiction, drama and the new medium of film. It is perhaps the vastness of his contribution that prevented him from being regarded in one area of literary criticism.”

The book is divided into three sections. The first considers Barrie’s achievement as a dramatist, and explores how his mastery of the theatre made him an early enthusiast for cinema.

The essays in the second section concentrate mainly on Barrie’s prose, and are concerned with the complex matter of his place in literary tradition, particularly traditions in Scottish literature.

Finally, the third section of the book Peter Pan’s Connections, explores neglected aspects of the background and intellectual contexts of this iconic play, and also show its direct effects on audiences and children.

The book is being launched at an event alongside a pamphlet, J.M. Barrie in Dumfries which profiles the author’s family history and literary career and the early evidence that a literary career beckoned.

Catriona McMillan, a research associate with the University of Glasgow’s Solway Centre in Dumfries who researched and wrote J.M. Barrie in Dumfries said “J.M. Barrie had a tremendous fondness for Dumfries - for the people he met, the education he had there and the upbringing he had.  Dumfries gave Barrie his first experiences of theatre and production, it was the place where he wrote his first novel and his first play. We know it provided the first sparks of inspiration for the story of Peter Pan.”

All proceeds of the pamphlet go to the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust which is restoring the house and garden in which Barrie played pirate games as a child. The fine Georgian property and its ‘enchanted land’ will be turned into an international visitor attraction and Centre for Children’s Literature & Storytelling, due to open in 2017.

Further information

Valentina Bold

School of Interdisciplinary Studies

College of Social and Political Sciences



For media enquiries: 0141 330 3683

The launch event will take place on 30 May 2014 at the Peter Pan Moat Brae House, George Street, Dumfries.  It will begin at 6pm.

For more information about the Moat Brae Trust, go to or contact Catherine Colwell 01387 255 549

  • The Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust was set up in 2009 to save Moat Brae House and garden from demolition and to celebrate its international literary connection as ‘The Birthplace of Peter Pan’.  Its aim is to save and restore the ‘B listed’ Moat Brae house and garden in George Street, Dumfries, where J. M Barrie played as a child and was inspired to write one of the most famous children’s stories in the world, developing this into a national Centre for Children’s Literature. 
  • The recently completed restoration work (Phase A) has cost the Trust approximately £0.75m, including all fees and VAT.  The work has been undertaken by T Graham and Son (Builders) Ltd, of Langholm, part of the Graham Group.  Other consultants employed on the project were:  Architects ARPL of Ayr; Quantity Surveyors McGowan Miller of George Street, Dumfries; and Structural Engineers Blackett-Ord of Appleby, Cumbria.
  • The Trust’s fundraising campaign was launched by Patron Joanna Lumley in August 2011 and, as a result of this, the Trust was able to complete emergency works early in 2012.  The funds necessary to complete the Phase A restoration work came from a number of sources including:
    • Historic Scotland
    • The Garfield Weston Foundation  
    • William Grant & Sons
    • The Batchworth Trust
    • The Stevenson Charitable Trust
    • The Barscobe Heritage Trust
    • The Barfil Trust
    • The Buccleuch Charitable Foundation
    • The Magnox Socio-Economic Scheme
    • The People’s Project, and
    • Other, private donations and sponsors.
  • The next phase of development for the new Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling is being funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund for Scotland (which has awarded the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust a Round 1 development grant of £219,700) and Creative Scotland (which has awarded a Development Award of £45,000) plus matching funds from other sources.  This phase is underway and is expected to take another year to complete.  
  • The Trust is supported by The Duke of Rothesay’s charity, The Prince’s Regeneration Trust (PRT). PRT has been advising the Trust from the outset in finding viable new uses for this important Georgian building and is supporting them in applying for the necessary funding.

    • The Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust is a member of the Association of Building Preservation Trusts.
  • This project has been adopted for support by the Prince’s Regeneration Trust

“For our escapades in a certain Dumfries garden, which is enchanted land to me, was certainly the genesis of that nefarious work – Peter Pan” - J.M Barrie


First published: 27 May 2014

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