May 9: J. M. Barrie

JM_BarrieScottish author and dramatist James Matthew Barrie was born on this day in 1860. Barrie wrote dozens of books and plays, but his most famous work is undoubtedly the 1904 play Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up.

The play began as a series of stories inspired by and told to the boys of the Llewelyn Davies family, whose mother Barrie was friends with. Although the play Peter Pan introduced all the familiar elements of the Peter Pan story that we know and love (The Darling family, Captain Hook, Tinkerbell, the Lost Boys), the title character actually made his debut in an earlier Barrie work, 1902’s The Little White Bird.

The Little White Bird was an unusual little book. A cross between episodic novel and short story collection, the book tells a few slightly interconnected and fantastical stories about life in London. Although primarily intended as a novel for adults, the middle passage of the book told the tale of Peter Pan, a young boy who flew out of his nursery one night and took up residence in Kensington Park with the fairies. As the Peter Pan play was a massive success, it was soon adapted into a book called Peter and Wendy; and the public began clamoring for more Peter Pan stories. So, the Peter Pan chapters from The Little White Bird were extracted from the book, lightly edited and released as a short novella, Peter Pan In Kensington Park. Interestingly, although there have been countless adaptations and spin-offs of the Peter Pan story, Barrie never revisited his most famous character beyond the play.

Amongst the many Peter Pan adaptations is the Peter Pan cocktail, an enchanting take on the Martini that’s been given a kick of orange juice.

Peter Pan

  • 1 1/2 ounces Gin
  • 3/4 ounce Dry Vermouth
  • 1 ounce orange juice
  • 2 dashes Aromatic Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Rub an orange twist along the edge of the glass and then drop the twist inside the drink.

Tomorrow: The political end of the Confederacy.

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