Peter Pan in the Royal Palace! Once Upon A Time, Before Neverland, Peter Pan was a Real-Life Wild Boy Who Befriended King George and the Royal Family
"To reveal who he really was would even at this date set the country in a blaze." These are the words of James Barrie, referring to Peter Pan's nemesis, Captain Hook. A new book, Peter: The Untold True Story, promises to shed new light on the origins of the characters in Barrie's classic fairy tale. Connecting the real-life figure of Peter the Wild Boy with the fictional character of Peter Pan, the epic tale spans more than seventy years, exploring the real personalities and events of Peter the Wild Boy's life, over a century before Barrie wrote his legend.
James Barrie hinted in his own writing that the legend of Peter began long before the fairy tale was written. Mysteriously, in the introduction to his published work, James Barrie suggested that he could not recall writing Peter Pan, his most famous character. Perhaps that is because before Peter became a fictional character, he was a real-life Wild Boy, who lived more than a century before Barrie wrote his fairy tale.
Barrie wrote in the story of Peter Pan that before going to Neverland, Peter resided at Kensington Gardens amongst the fairies. The history of the fairies at Kensington Gardens traces back to an 18th century poem by Thomas Tickell called "Kensington Gardens." The epic poem featured an infant boy who was adopted and raised by fairies. Interestingly this poem was written in 1722, only a few years before Peter the Wild Boy came to London. As a guest of the Royal Family, Peter occasionally roamed Kensington Gardens' hundreds of acres. Peter the Wild Boy was a charming, intuitive feral child discovered living alone in the German forest of Hamelin. Peter's innocent spirit won King George's interest and appreciation. The King and his family hoped to educate the Wild Boy, helping him to grow up and become a proper English gentleman.
The era in which Peter the Wild Boy lived was one that surely would have interested Barrie. It was the end of the Golden Age of Piracy, when pirates clashed with the naval power of the British Empire. It was also a time in which Indians from America were visitors to the Royal Court. It was the Age of Enlightenment, when science and reason were conquering the unknown, the mysterious and the wild. In the midst of this era, Peter the Wild Boy stood in the Royal Court as a prominent, curious anomaly.