James Matthew Barrie’s strong themes combined with deep symbolism and irony mesh together in his works and give them a sense of whimsical magic and emotion that allowed Barrie to express the childhood he missed out on and essentially wanted. Some of Barrie’s most prominent works are very well-known today. Barrie was born on May 9, 1860, in Kirriemuir, Scotland. His mother and father, David Barrie and Margaret Ogilvy, had ten children. Only seven of their children were surviving, and James was the youngest son. (Billone ix)
When Barrie was just seven years old, his brother David died in a skating accident. David was his mother’s favorite child. The death of David grieved his mother deeply, which led James to decide to try to take the place of his brother. Although he tried, his attempts were never successful. Barrie missed out on his own childhood because he tried to live his brother’s. (Dunbar 10-14)
Barrie had simple beginnings, but he was well-educated. He attended the prestigious Dumfries Academy for five years. In 1882, he went to Edinburgh University and got a master of arts degree in English literature. Barrie began work for the Nottingham Journal in 1883 and then went on to work as a freelance journalist in 1885. Barrie’s first published work, Better Dead, was published in 1887. (Billone ix-x) This began his literary career.
Barrie married Mary Ansell, an actress, in 1894. A few years later, Barrie met Sylvia Llewellyn Davies and her family (Billone xi) and formed an attachment to her. Davies’ boys are what later will become the inspiration for Peter Pan. In 1909, Barrie was divorced from his wife. Then, in 1910, Davies died of cancer. Earlier, in 1907, Barrie began taking care of Davies and her children financially after the death of her husband. Years later, in 1913, Barrie became a baronet. (Billone xii-xiii)
Margaret Ogilvy, Barrie’s biography about his mother, conveys the relationship Barrie and Margaret had with each other. It talks about the effects the death of David had on his mother in much detail. The book conveys how Barrie felt so much responsibility for his mother’s happiness. Billone also commented, “At six years old, James Matthew Barrie believed he was his mother’s last hope.” (Billone xv)
This work, even though it is a biography, represents reoccurring themes found in many of his works and explains the overall reason for the things he wrote. Billone’s description of 1896 in the life of Barrie says, “Barrie’s doting memoir of his mother, Margaret Ogilvy, is published, revealing the intensity of his attachment to her and providing a record of her major, complex influence on his private and creative life.” (Billone xi) One of the themes in this work is the longterm effects of a mother’s love and how it shapes a child.
In the work Barrie tells us, “In her happiest moments-and never was a happier woman-her mouth did not of a sudden begin to twitch, and tears to lie on the mute blue eyes in which I have read all...