Dwarfism is generally defined as an adult height of 4 feet 10 inches or less. The average adult height of people with dwarfism is 4 feet. Did you know that the author of Peter Pan has the same medical condition?
JM Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, was only 4ft10 due to psychogenic dwarfism. This growth disorder affects children between the ages of 2 and 15 and is caused by severe emotional deprivation or stress.
Who is J. M. Barrie?
Sir James Matthew Barrie was born in Kirriemuir, Scotland, and attended Dumfries Academy and the University of Edinburgh. He worked as a journalist in Nottingham, then in London, before turning to write novels and, later, plays.
He was born the ninth of ten children into a humble Scottish weaving family. His brother, David, her mother’s favorite child, died in a skating accident on the eve of his 14th birthday when he was six.
His mother never recovered from the loss, and J.M. tried to fill the void in her life by maintaining a devoted, if not overly entwined, relationship with her.
In 1897, he published Margaret Ogilvy, a biography of his mother. His close relationship with her is said to have inspired the creation of several characters in his works, including “Wendy” in Peter Pan.
Barrie suffered from psychogenic dwarfism as a result of his childhood trauma. He was only four feet, ten inches tall as an adult. The condition causes reduced growth hormone secretion, inappropriate height and weight, and immature skeletal age.
In July 1894, Barrie married actress Mary Ansell. In Barrie’s second play, Walker, London, she played opposite Irene Vanburgh. Because they had no children, it has been speculated that their marriage was platonic.
In 1909, he divorced Ansell. During the difficult period of his divorce, he met Sylvia Llewellyn Davies and her sons in Kensington Park, London, and formed a close relationship with them. The idea for the play starring Peter Pan came from his storytelling relationship with the boys in this family.
Barrie, already a well-known author, based his masterpiece on this character, who first appeared in his novel The Little White Bird. Barrie was made a baronet in 1913 and was awarded the Order of Merit for his service during World War I.
On July 19, 1937, he died in London and was buried at Kirriemuir alongside his parents, one sister, and one brother. (Source: New World Encyclopedia)
JM Barrie and the Creation of Peter Pan
Peter Pan isn’t a straightforward character; Barrie based him on several people, including himself. The boy who refused to grow up is portrayed in the same way that Barrie felt: as an inadequate outsider in British society. Peter is also similar to Barrie in his apparent lack of sexual desire; Barrie married but never had children.
Peter has a similar story in that Wendy wants him to act like a father, but he has no idea what she wants from him.
In his personal journey, Barrie wrote; Greatest horror—dream I am married—wake up shrieking, which is likely how Peter would have reacted.
It’s no surprise that Barrie’s marriage soured and ended in 1909, as his wife sought solace in the arms of another man. (Source: Black Pool Grand)