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

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

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by Piers Dudgeon
     
 

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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…  See more details below

Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
“Starred Review. A page-turner, Dudgeon shows how the sins, dark gifts, and obsessions of the best-selling novelist du Maurier were visited on the author of Peter Pan.”
The Scotsman
“Meticulous and highly provocative... Dudgeon knows what he's doing and builds his case with precision and coolness... It's a gripping read that exposes the dark side to two seemingly innocent activities, writing and loving children... Dudgeon has exposed, in quite a magnificent way, the power and potential for abuse in both.”
Michael Dirda - Washington Post
“There might be scarier books this 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, unnatural family relations, predatory abuse, and suicide.”
Janet Maslin - The New York Times
“Neverland has hot-and cold running secrets, as well as tentacles that extend out to touch Henry James, D. H. Lawrence, and Arthur Conan Doyle.”
Frances Wilson - Sunday Times [London]
“A rattling grisly read... 'May God blast anyone who writes a biography of me,' Barrie warned and his curse was surely aimed at Dudgeon, who goes further than any other biographer... I defy you not to be captivated.”
Brian Morton - Sunday Herald [London]
“Dudgeon...has negotiated the dark back-tracks and by-ways of Barrie's chilling Neverland.... He tells a terrible story without sentimentality, without sensationalism and without undue psychologising... Intelligently and feelingly done.”
Justine Picardie
“Dudgeon’s portrait of Barrie—as a man who filled the vacuum of his own sexual impotence by a compulsive desire to possess the family who inspired his most famous creation, Peter Pan—will be of interest to anyone who has followed the twists of the du Maurier family history.”
David Lodge
“A fascinating account of the psychological web in which Barrie trapped the tragic du Maurier family.”
Nina Auerbach
“A riveting joy. I was literally captivated by this story. Poor scintillating du Mauriers. Poor boys....I felt as if I was living it.”
Library Journal
Dudgeon (The Woman of Substance: The Secret Life That Inspired the Renowned Storyteller Barbara Taylor Bradford) explores the relationship between J.M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, and the Du Maurier family. Dudgeon has extensively researched the literary work of George and Daphne Du Maurier and Barrie to draw parallels between their works and their real lives; he also uses archival material such as letters and third-party accounts. Dudgeon argues that Barrie had a close relationship with the Du Maurier boys, and he drew on this relationship in the creation of Peter Pan. Dudgeon also portrays Barrie as a dark and troubled man who may have used hypnotism to gain an obsessive control over the Du Maurier boys and their mother. He goes on to look at Barrie's link to the tragic demise of the boys, from the drowning of Michael to the suicide of Peter. VERDICT Given its detail and extensive reference to the literary works of Barrie and the Du Mauriers, this will appeal most to those with a specific interest in these authors.—Rebecca Bollen Manalac, Sydney, Australia\
Kirkus Reviews
Adopting both the general notion and the melodramatic tone of D.H. Lawrence's famous comment-"J.M. Barrie has a fatal touch for those he loves. They die"-Dudgeon (Our East End: Memories of Life in Disappearing Britain, 2008, etc.) presents the author of Peter Pan as a crippled soul who deliberately manipulated the lives and psyches of numerous associates and children. Why? Not for sex-the author dismisses this notion out of hand-but in compensation for a childhood so "bereft of wonder" that he was left incapable of any genuine ability to love. How? Through hypnosis and autosuggestion, techniques inspired by Svengali, the villain in George Du Maurier's novel Trilby. Who? Dudgeon trots in a large company over whom Barrie "extend[ed] his malign power," including but not limited to the five "Lost Boys" of that same Du Maurier's daughter Sylvia, his son Gerald Du Maurier, Gerald's daughter Daphne and, for variety, the doomed explorer Robert Scott. All did indeed die young, commit suicide and/or suffer lifelong emotional problems. Furthermore, the author ups the body count by suggesting that Barrie played a hushed-up role in the accidental death of his older brother in childhood. The evidence for this, as for Dudgeon's entire thesis, is at best circumstantial. Aside from sure proof, presented in a pair of photos, that Barrie altered Sylvia's will to give him guardianship over the boys, it's all based on suppositions, uneasy comments or dark hints by contemporaries, bald guesses and supposedly telling parallels between fleshly characters and those in either Barrie's works or various of the Du Mauriers' "autobiographical psycho-novels."Nowhere near a cut-and-dried case, but plausible enoughto leave readers-particularly those who found Peter Pan disquieting (which it is)-wondering.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781605981918
Publisher:
Pegasus
Publication date:
07/15/2011
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.98(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet 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.

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Neverland: J. M. Barrie, the Du Mauriers, and the Dark Side of Peter Pan 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While the previous review was not helpful for this book, the Witch & Wizard by Patterson and Charbonnet is a very fun and twisty sci fi futuristic novel. I agree with that reviewer, try it. My rating is for that novel actually!