‘An After Thought’

This is the title of a one-act play by J.M. Barrie (1860-1937), an epilogue to the stage play Peter Pan.

img478This fascinating script is contained in the archive of the world’s oldest literary agency AP Watt, which is held at UEA. The typescript is produced by ‘Mrs Olive Blows, Typewriting Agency’. It’s not clear whether Barrie approached her himself with his manuscript or whether the agency took the manuscript to her in order to produce a more professional looking document. How faithful and accurate was Mrs Blows’ typing? There are two page 15s, so not too accurate then. It would be interesting to compare it with the handwritten script but alas this is all we have

img476The typescript is dated March 1908 yet the epilogue is said to have been performed on the closing night of the play’s performance, 22 Feb 1908. It was written by Barrie to explain what became of Peter and Wendy. The scene shows a youthful Peter dropping in to see Wendy (who is now grown up with a daughter, Jane). While Wendy and Nana (the dog) have aged, Peter is unchanged. He has a sort of amnesia, forgetting he killed Captain Hook and thinking he saw Wendy only the day before. He describes his exact feelings for her as “those of a devoted son”.

img477As only the ‘young and innocent’ can fly, Peter recruits Jane and asks her to be his mother. She agrees despite having only a child’s conception of motherhood. Together they fly off to do their ‘Spring cleaning’ in Never Never Land. Wendy’s lasting wish is that her daughter will one day have a daughter who may also be visited by Peter, and fly away with him in turn – “and in this way may I go on for ever and ever dear Nana, so long as children are young and innocent”.

img475The dedication is to Hilda Trevelyan (1877-1959), the actress who created the role of Wendy in Peter Pan.

The script may be examined in the Archives.

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