Peter Pan as Children’s Theatre

Marah Gubar

in The Oxford Handbook of Children's Literature

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780195379785
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Peter Pan as Children’s Theatre

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  • Children's Literature Studies
  • Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights)



This article reinscribes agency both to the performers of James Matthew Barrie's play and to child audience members, whose responses are notoriously difficult to track, by closely exploring the history of Peter Pan (1904) and relating it to nonprofessional children's theatricals, and by describing children's own responses to the play as audience members. Peter Pan bore numerous traces of its private prehistory. Barrie identified children as a crucial target audience for Peter Pan both before and after he drafted it. He was tremendously pleased to discover that young fans were reenacting Peter Pan at home. Indeed, Barrie was so delighted by this phenomenon that he actually rewrote the play to acknowledge it. Beerbohm and Barrie were aware that early-twentieth-century playgoers considered Peter Pan a children's play and that children attended in large numbers.

Keywords: Peter Pan; James Matthew Barrie; Beerbohm; child audience; nonprofessional children's theatricals

Article.  11128 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Children's Literature Studies ; Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights)

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