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J M Barrie to Peter Llewelyn Davies - 1906

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Letter from Barrie to Peter on his 9th birthday, 25 February 1906. Peter's comments includes a digression about Bernard Freyberg.



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Leinster corner,
Lancaster Gate, W.
25 Feb. 1906

My dear Peter,
Hurrah for your birthday. Nine years ago the world was a dreary blank. It was like the round of tissue paper the clown holds up for the lady in the circus to leap through, and then you came banging through it with a Houp-la! and we have all been busy ever since.
I expect 20 years from now there will be a half holiday given at the Berkhamsted school on the 25 of Feb. because it is the birthday of the famous pupil, Mr (now Lieut-General) Peter Davies, V.C.
I am to get a knife tomorrow to send you. I expect it will draw blood before you lose it. If you are still on friendly terms with Primus &c., give them my comps.
Your loving friend
J.M.B.

Peter's comments:

Alas, Berkhamsted School never got the prophesied half hol. But in less than 20 years J.M.B. had his V.C. general alright in the person of Bernard (now Sir, K.C.B. etc.) Freyberg. Dear, dear; almost makes me sound bitter, like Peter Pan when he flew home and found the window shut. Which is far from being the case. Bernard F. was not only a good friend to J.M.B. in his latter years, one of the few who had the capacity of taking his idiosyncrasies in his stride: he has also always been most friendly to me. And what with unerring skill J.M.B. selected his hero: the most superb of all modern soldierly careers, surely. He was the recipient of the very last letter J.M.B. ever wrote, on his deathbed. What was in it, I wonder?

[AB: Bernard Freyberg - or to give him his full honour, Lieutenant General Bernard Cyril Freyberg, 1st Baron Freyberg, V.C., G.C.M.G., K.C.B., K.B.E., D.S.O. & Three Bars - was a New Zealander introduced to Barrie by Kathleen Scott in 1916 while Freyberg was recovering from battle wounds in hospital. Freyberg was mentioned in dispatches six times before the Great War ended, having already won a V.C. and a D.S.O. He later became the youngest brigadier-general in the British army, and was lionised by London society, not least by Barrie, who was won by his charm and simplicity of character. Although 30 years Barrie's junior, the attraction was mutual and Freyberg was at Barrie's bedside till the last. In 1946, Freyberg was made Governor-General of New Zealand.]

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