Neverland: J. M. Barrie, The Du Mauriers, and the Dark Side of Peter Pan

2.97 avg rating
( 349 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9781605980638: Neverland: J. M. Barrie, The Du Mauriers, and the Dark Side of Peter Pan
View all copies of this ISBN edition:
 
 

The untold story behind Peter Pan: The shocking account of J. M. Barrie's abuse and exploitation of the du Maurier family.

In his revelatory Neverland, Piers Dudgeon tells the tragic story of J. M. Barrie and the Du Maurier family. Driven by a need to fill the vacuum left by sexual impotence, Barrie sought out George du Maurier, Daphne du Maurier’s grandfather (author of the famed Trilby), who specialized in hypnosis. Barrie’s fascination and obsession with the Du Maurier family is a shocking study of greed and psychological abuse, as we observe Barrie as he applies these lessons in mind control to captivate George’s daughter Sylvia, his son Gerald, as well as their children―who became the inspiration for the Darling family in Barrie’s immortal Peter Pan.

Barrie later altered Sylvia’s will after her death so that he could become the boys’ legal guardian, while pushing several members of the family to nervous breakdown and suicide. Barrie’s compulsion to dominate was so apparent to those around him that D. H. Lawrence once wrote: J. M Barrie has a fatal touch for those he loves. They die.
32 b&w illustrations

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Piers Dudgeon worked closely with Daphne du Maurier on her book Enchanted Cornwall. He began his research on his book  Neverland after learning that Daphne had placed a moratorium on her diaries until fifty years after her death. Piers has worked with authors as diverse as John Fowles, Peter Ackroyd, Shirley Conran and Ted Hughes. He lives in London.

From The Washington Post:

From The Washington Post's Book World/washingtonpost.com Reviewed by by Michael Dirda There might be scarier books this Halloween season, but it's unlikely that any will be as luridly creepy as "Neverland." Even if you already know a little about the sinister background of J.M. Barrie's classic play, "Peter Pan," you will be in for a shock. In these pages Piers Dudgeon presents a multi-generational history of psychological domination and submission, unnatural family relations, predatory abuse and suicide. He also connects three great works of the popular imagination: George du Maurier's late-19th-century bestseller "Trilby" -- the novel in which the evil Svengali, through hypnosis, transforms a beautiful tone-deaf girl into a singing sensation but in the process destroys her soul; J.M. Barrie's death-haunted "Peter Pan," once titled "The Boy Who Hated Mothers"; and Daphne du Maurier's Gothic romance about spiritual possession, "Rebecca." Dudgeon's biographic thesis is that George du Maurier, while an art student in Paris, learned hypnosis, first sending his mistress into submissive trances and later using mind-control to focus his own imagination. Through intense concentration, he suggested in his first novel, "Peter Ibbetson," a person could actually escape the bounds of time and space: That book's imprisoned hero, by "dreaming true," achieves blissfully ecstatic reunions with his beloved while his body remains locked in his cell. As it turns out, the young Scots writer J.M. Barrie extravagantly admired "Peter Ibbetson" -- he later gave his "demon boy" Peter Pan its hero's first name -- as well as the later "Trilby." According to Dudgeon, he then grew obsessed with du Maurier and his children, and in due course came to mesmerize and manipulate two generations of the family. A mama's boy, only a little over 5 feet tall, and almost certainly impotent, Barrie, in Dudgeon's view, found a virtually sexual pleasure in manipulating others. First, he inveigled his way into the good graces of George du Maurier's daughter Sylvia and her lawyer husband, Arthur Llewelyn Davies, then he gradually captivated Sylvia's spirit so fully that she would choose to spend her Christmas holidays with him rather than with her husband. Barrie, says Dudgeon, "lived for the power-play dynamics of the relationship. That was his sex. His thrills came, for example, from the tension between the way the new Sylvia rose to the almost supernatural influence he seemed to exert over their lives, and the guilt and shame the old Sylvia felt about leaving Arthur and going abroad with him." Later, after the conveniently early deaths of both husband and wife, "Uncle Jim" boldly assumed the guardianship of the couple's five sons, the original Lost Boys of "Peter Pan." The three eldest never wholly escaped Barrie's Svengali-like influence. "All the du Mauriers captivated by Jim lived their lives within his imagination, losing their souls to him thereby." George, whom Barrie morbidly adored and psychologically abused (he essentially relates one of their nights together in his autobiographical novel "The Little White Bird"), was killed during the Great War; Barrie always credited him for Peter Pan's famous line: "To die will be an awfully big adventure." Michael, the most beautiful, drowned himself at 20, and, to Dudgeon, "there is a programmed inevitability about Michael's death, and the programmer is Uncle Jim." Finally, Peter, a lifelong melancholiac, eventually threw himself under a train. Surprisingly, Barrie repeatedly seems to reveal the truth about his secret self throughout his many autobiographical fictions and fantasies: "In the house of Mr. and Mrs. Darling," he writes, "there never was a simpler happier family until the coming of Peter Pan." He then adds, even more explicitly: "Peter had seen many tragedies, but he had forgotten them all. . . . 'I forget [people] after I kill them.' " As D.H. Lawrence acidly observed after the death of Michael, "J.M. Barrie has a fatal touch for those he loves. They die." Barrie's malign influence also embraced Sylvia's actor brother, Gerald du Maurier, who became the little Scot's puppet in return for riches and stardom: Gerald played Captain Hook, the hero of "The Admirable Crichton" and one of the main characters of the unnerving drama about missed opportunities, "Dear Brutus." For this last, Barrie included a shocking scene in which Gerald's character and his imagined daughter outrageously flirt and sexually tease each other. Dudgeon regards this scene as an example of sympathetic magic. He promulgates that a truly powerful text can foster and direct its subject into certain forms of behavior. After playing this role on the stage, Gerald, we're told, took to telling his teenage daughter Daphne about his sexual conquests, was seen to paw the girl in public and deliberately encouraged her own confessed attraction to him. Late in life, Daphne confessed to a friend that she and her father had "crossed the line" -- though later she denied that actual intercourse had taken place. Dudgeon also suggests that in her writing Daphne learned to draw on the technique of "dreaming true" to create her powerfully hypnotic visions of the past. Many of her late stories of horror and the supernatural feature a figure reminiscent of Barrie. Barrie's influence -- at least in Dudgeon's view -- may even have caused the death of Robert Falcon Scott near the South Pole. The two men became friends after the explorer's first Antarctic expedition and, according to Dudgeon, Scott was gradually infected with Barrie's boyish ideas of the heroic. By 1911 Scott had "changed into a man who was self-confident, self-important, petulant, and possessed of a sense of the significance of 'the explorer' as the custodian of the British heroic vision, one who needed to suffer and show courage and discipline and duty and endurance, and who would therefore eschew the 'modern' technology of exploration because it was, in effect, 'cheating.' Scott had become a fantasist, and his expedition was a tragic disaster." And who inspired this fantastic and fatal self-image? J.M. Barrie. While one certainly reads "Neverland" compulsively -- if only with a sense of what one might call "the fascination of the abomination" -- Piers Dudgeon's book is nonetheless highly problematic. Much is speculative and the evidence circumstantial at best. One senses throughout a tendentious author with a thesis, a hobbyhorse that he rides hard, right into the ground. Dudgeon's prose and approach are also deliberately sensationalistic rather than even-tempered and scholarly. There's evidence of carelessness or haste, too -- Walter Besant is called George Besant; Dudgeon refers to writer Anthony Hawkins at one point and to Anthony Hope at another, without any indication that he realizes that they are the same man (Anthony Hope Hawkins dropped his last name for books like "The Prisoner of Zenda"). At least once, Dudgeon even fails to pursue an important lead that would support his obsessive thesis: Barrie's first play, he indicates in a footnote, was called "Richard Savage." Grubstreet hack Richard Savage, according to his friend Samuel Johnson, grew maniacally obsessed with his mother, an aristocratic divorcee who -- he claimed -- refused to acknowledge that he was her illegitimate son. From the very beginning, then, any reader of "Neverland" must feel hesitation in wholly accepting its zealous author's thesis that Barrie was some kind of Mephistopheles. Nonetheless, some facts are certainly there: "Trilby," "Peter Pan" and "Rebecca" do possess a strange family resemblance; Barrie did usurp a father's place in the lives of the Llewelyn Davies boys; and Daphne du Maurier did feel sexually confused, embark on lesbian affairs and suffer an eventual breakdown. Is there a link? Maybe. Maybe not. Perhaps all lives are simply a lot messier and troubled than we commonly acknowledge, and did we but know the full truth, few of us would escape whipping. bookworld@washpost.com
Copyright 2009, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9781605981918: Neverland: J. M. Barrie, the Du Mauriers, and the Dark Side of Peter Pan

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  1605981915 ISBN 13:  9781605981918
Publisher: Pegasus Books, 2011
Softcover

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Piers Dudgeon
Published by Pegasus (2009)
ISBN 10: 1605980633 ISBN 13: 9781605980638
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Ergodebooks
(RICHMOND, TX, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Pegasus, 2009. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX1605980633

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 50.25
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

2.

Dudgeon, Piers
Published by Pegasus Books (2009)
ISBN 10: 1605980633 ISBN 13: 9781605980638
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Murray Media
(NORTH MIAMI BEACH, FL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Pegasus Books, 2009. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P111605980633

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 57.47
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

3.

Piers Dudgeon
Published by Pegasus Books (2009)
ISBN 10: 1605980633 ISBN 13: 9781605980638
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Irish Booksellers
(Portland, ME, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Pegasus Books, 2009. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M1605980633

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 57.83
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.27
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

4.

Piers Dudgeon
ISBN 10: 1605980633 ISBN 13: 9781605980638
New Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
BennettBooksLtd
(San Diego, CA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Condition: New. New. Seller Inventory # STRM-1605980633

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 77.35
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 4.95
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

5.

Piers Dudgeon
Published by Pegasus (2009)
ISBN 10: 1605980633 ISBN 13: 9781605980638
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Books Express
(Portsmouth, NH, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Pegasus, 2009. Hardcover. Condition: New. Ships with Tracking Number! INTERNATIONAL WORLDWIDE Shipping available. Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. Seller Inventory # 1605980633n

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 170.49
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds