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Writers & Poets

J.M Barrie

Burgess Casket of Sir J M Barrie (1860 - 1937)

20th Century

Sir J M Barrie, the prolific playwright, whose most enduring and famous creation is Peter Pan, was born in Kirriemuir in 1860.  At the age of 13 he came to live in Dumfries with his brother Alexander, and attended Dumfries Academy.  Here he produced his first literary work, a handwritten school magazine.  He and his friends frequently played in the riverside garden of Moatbrae House.  Their favourite game was pirates and in later years Barrie recalled that it was memories of this happy time that inspired Peter Pan.


He left Dumfries in 1878 to study at Edinburgh University and followed a career in journalism.  He became a highly successful novelist and then began to write plays.  In 1902 The Admirable Crichton appeared and in 1904, Peter Pan.  At one time Barrie had four plays running simultaneously in London.


In 1924, when Sir J M Barrie was at the height of his fame, he returned to Dumfries to be made a Freeman of the Royal Burgh.  As he generally avoided appearing in public, the national media descended on the town, attracted by the opportunity to see and hear him.  The ceremonies took place in the Lyceum Theatre, and it was in his speech that he explained, for the first time, how Peter Pan had originated in a "magical" Dumfries garden.

Dumfries Museum & Camera Obscura
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Presented 11 December 1924
Dumfries & Galloway Council

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