BARRIE, Sir James (1860-1937)
Plaque erected in 1961 by London County Council at 100 Bayswater Road, Bayswater, London, W2 3HJ, City of Westminster
Literature, Theatre and Film
SIR JAMES BARRIE 1860-1937 NOVELIST AND DRAMATIST lived here
JM Barrie wrote Peter Pan (1904) and Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (1906) while living at 100 Bayswater Road, where he is now commemorated with a blue plaque.
EARLY WRITING CAREER
Born in Scotland, the novelist and dramatist Sir James Barrie – better known as JM Barrie – worked as a journalist in Nottingham before settling in London in 1885. He first made his name with his sketches of life in his native Scotland, Auld Licht Idylls (1888).
In June 1902 he moved with his wife, the actress Mary Ansell, to Leinster Corner, as number 100 was then known. Barrie’s play Quality Street, the name of which is now immortalised in a chocolate-box selection, was produced at the Vaudeville Theatre that September, and The Admirable Crichton premiered in November.
PETER PAN AT BAYSWATER ROAD
It was at number 100, in a study fitted out above a stable-cum-garage building at the bottom of the back garden (now demolished), that Barrie wrote Peter Pan (1904) and Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (1906). The gardens, which lie opposite, were a place of inspiration and retreat for him, as was his occasional country retreat, Black Lake Cottage, near Tilford, Surrey. Number 100 Bayswater Road is one of a pair of villas dating from 1824, which have been threatened with demolition several times. The plaque to Barrie was cited in the most recent campaign for their preservation.
The models for the Darling family of the Peter Pan books were the children of Arthur and Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, for whom Barrie later acted as guardian. Barrie became infatuated with Sylvia – the sister of Gerald du Maurier. This, and his wife’s affair with a young actor, led to the final breakdown of their marriage. Sensationally, for the time, they were divorced in October 1909, and Barrie left Bayswater Road for a flat at 3 Adelphi Terrace House, south of the Strand.
At the Adelphi his career continued to prosper. He published the novel Peter and Wendy (1911), based on his earlier play, while stage successes included Dear Brutus (1917) and Mary Rose (1920). He was made a baronet in 1913 and appointed to the Order of Merit in 1922. Barrie died at Adelphi Terrace House at the age of 77.