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Peter Llewelyn Davies to John Llewelyn Davies - 19

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Description

Letter from Peter to his grandfather, the Rev John Llewelyn Davies on his 80th birthday, giving an account of "Peter Pan in Michael's Nursery", 25 February 1906.

[No original available]



Transcription

Egerton House,
Berkhamsted.
Feb. 25th [1906]

Dear Grandfather,
I hope you will have a nice birthday, it is my birthday today, and although I am not quite so old as you, I hope to be soon. I hope I shall come to Kirkby next summer or Christmas. I hope Aunt Margaret is quite well, and Kate, Mary, and Annie. I hope you liked your journeys in France. Uncle Crompton is coming next Saturday to make a speech at the Town Hall. Dr Fry is going to be the chairman at the meeting. I hope Uncle Crompton will come away safe from the meeting, and not get caned.
Some actors and actresses from Peter Pan came down on Father’s birthday in two large motor cars, to act the nursery. Peter Pan is about a boy who ran away from home the day he was born, and lived in the Never-never-never-Land. One day he came back to the house of some people call the Darlings, and in the night took away the three children away. The father was so sorry he had taken the dog, Nana, out of the room that he lived in the kennel. Then one day they came back, and Wendy, the girl, was allowed to go to Peter, every spring cleaning.
Wishing you many happy returns of the day, from Peter.
PS I am sending you a programme of Peter Pan in Michael’s nursery.

Peter's comments:

This was for John LD’s 80th birthday. The letter may perhaps be regarded as historic, if only on account of its being the earliest known example of its composer’s skill as a “blurb” writer.

At that age one saw nothing particularly remarkable in a play, or a piece of a play, being brought down from London to be performed in one’s home in the country; but when you come to think of it, it was a gesture in the grand style, even for J.M.B. That it should have happened on his birthday, February 20, I take to be purely fortuitous. I have a copy of the programme, most likely the one I sent to John LD with this letter. I remember very little of the affair, so little that I can’t be certain whether it was George or Jack or I, or all three of us, who fell heavily for Miss Winifred Geoghegan (the understudy for Cissie Loftus, that year’s principal boy-who-wouldn’t- grow-up) who played the name-part at the Egerton House production.

[AB: Winifred Geoghegan played Michael in the original 1904/05 production, and Curly from 1905/06 till 1907/08. In the appendix to his “Fifty Years of Peter Pan”, Roger Lancelyn Green lists (on p.239) three “Special private performances by Juvenile Members of the London Company, at the Duke of York’s Theatre.” According to Roger, “these performances, organised entirely by the children of the company, originated with Winifred Geoghegan who was a brilliant mimic. The very first performance was given on January 26th, 1906, and consisted only of the ‘Nursery Scenes’. Winifred Geoghegan played Peter Pan, Leslie Oswell was Mr Darling, Phyllis Beadon was Mrs Darling, Ela Q. May was Wendy, A. Ganker was John, Geraldine Wilson was Michael, Ernest Marini was Nana, and Alice Robinson was Liza. It is not certain whether there were any further performances.” It seems clear from this that Roger was unaware of the performance in Michael’s nursery, given only a few weeks later on February 20th 1906. Although Barrie himself is not listed as one of the performers, he does appear as the First Cabman in the children’s performance the following year on February 19th, 1907 – the same part he played in Michael’s Nursery.]

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