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J M Barrie to George Llewelyn Davies - 1913

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Letter from Barrie to George at Trinity College Cambridge, 6 May 1913.

[Not in Peter’s Morgue]


Adelphi Terrace House,
Strand, W.C.

6 May 1913

My dear George,
Your motoring sounds to me very dangerous and really troubles me. This tearing breakneck, especially round corners is not only risky to those on board however expert the driver may be, but is something of a curse for the public and some day a child or an old man may suddenly emerge & lose his head & not know whether to stop or go on or turn back. Horrible things happen then at times.
Michael so far is very lonely and unhappy at Eton, and I am depressed thereby. He is up to a man called Ramsey who insists on everyone talking to him in Latin – all well enough to boys who know the ropes but very trying to a small boy just arrived who wants to be told his way about. I am negotiating for a house in Perthshire for summer. It is just trout fishing at our time of year, but very pretty country, & if we go I hope you'll like it. It seems the best I can do this year. Jack has had influenza.

Your affec. J.M.B.

[Not in Peter’s Morgue. thus none of his comments. Killiecrankie Cottage overlooked the Pass. It was a far cry from the splendours of Amhuinnsuidh Castle, but provided excellent fishing.

Later in the Morgue, after the resumption of the Barrie-George letters he had to hand, Peter wrote that "I know very little indeed of George's time at Cambridge, which only lasted a couple of years. No scholarships or fellowships for him, but a great deal of enjoyment. There must have been plenty of letters from him to J.M.B. during this period, among the mass I collected from "the flat” after J.M.B.'s death, but I suppose I destroyed them. Jack and Nico may regret that I didn't destroy the entire box of tricks.

George joined the Amateur Dramatic Society, and played Ernest in “The Importance of Being Ernest.” He turned from a boy into a young man, and must have spread his wings a bit in the vacations. I don’t think he was precocious, and I am sure there were few dark or difficult places in his character. He was exceptionally attractive to both sexes, but not spoilt. He had a devoted and in many ways invaluable mentor in J.M.B., but the way cannot have been altogether easy for him, as the first of the family to grow up against so peculiar a background.

Of his Cambridge friends who have survived I recollect only Oliver Lyttelton, who played with him in "The Importance”, and whose mother, becoming addicted to Spiritualism, was later to upset J.M.B. by professing to have got into communication with George “on the other side".]

[AB: Oliver Lyttelton, later Lord Chandos, in his 1968 autobiography "From Peace to War" wrote:

“My greatest friend [at Cambridge] was George Llewelyn Davies, adopted son of Sir James Barrie, and we were like brothers. Sometimes we talked with Barrie in his rooms at the Adelphi. He was a sad little man and smoked a huge disproportionate pipe. He was not whimsy in conversation, and with us he was unexpected and affectionate.”]


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