Works of J.M. Barrie [Peter Pan Edition], The

A Finely Bound Set of the Peter Pan Edition of the Works of J.M. Barrie

BARRIE, J.M. The Works of J.M. Barrie. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1929-1931 (Volumes I-XIV) and 1940-1941 (Volumes XV-XVIII).

Peter Pan Edition. Limited to 1,030 numbered sets for the United States of America, of which 1,000 are for sale and thirty are for presentation (this set being No. 995), signed by the publisher. Eighteen octavo volumes (8 15/16 x 5 3/4 inches; 227 x 145 mm.). Photogravure frontispieces.

Publisher’s three-quarter green crushed levant morocco, ruled in gilt, over green cloth boards. Spines decoratively tooled and lettered in gilt in compartments with five gilt-dotted raised bands. Top edge gilt, others uncut. Marbled endpapers. Spines of Volumes I-XIV are very slightly and uniformly faded. Leather bookplate of Esmond Bradley Martin on front pastedown of Volume I. A very fine set.

Volumes I-XIV were published 1929-1931, and Volumes XV-XVIII were published 1940-1941. As a result, this set is usually found with only fourteen volumes. It is very rare to find a bound set of all eighteen volumes.

Sir James Matthew Barrie (1860–1937) “was born at Kirriemuir, Forfarshire. His second brother, their mother's favourite child, died when Barrie was 6, and she turned the force of her personality on him, encouraging him to write. He resolved to make up to her for the son she had lost, and later celebrated her in Margaret Ogilvy, 1896. He was brought up in the Free Church of Scotland, and educated at Glasgow Academy (where his brother Alexander was a teacher), Forfar Academy, Dumfries Academy, and Edinburgh University. He was given his first job as leader-writer on the Nottingham Journal in 1883, but lost it when the owners, the Bradshaw brothers…decided to economize in 1884 by sacking him. His charming, quaint sketches of Scottish life, collected as Auld Licht Idylls (1888), were published in the St James's Gazette from 1884, and their success encouraged Barrie to go to London in 1885. He had his first literary success with the sentimental melodrama, The Little Minister (1891), and his first theatrical success with a farce produced as The Lifeboat in 1892. Barrie's future wife [Mary Ansell] was an actress in the cast. Sentimental Tommy (1896), a Kailyard novel, brought Barrie both critical appreciation and mass sales; Tommy and Grizel (1900), his last novel for adults, was a sequel. In the late 1890s he was a prominent figure in literary circles, with his own cricket team, the Alhakbarries (in which Conan Doyle and ‘Charles Turley’ played). Barrie's remarkable impact on the London stage in the 1900s began with Quality Street (1901) and The Admirable Crichton (1902), which combined his own taste for whimsical romance with the contemporary interest in social issues. The play Peter Pan, or, The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up (1904) grew out of Barrie's friendship with the five Llewelyn Davies brothers; with it are associated the novels The Little White Bird (1902) and Peter and Wendy (1911), and in 1912 Barrie arranged that a statue of Peter Pan should be put up, at his expense, in Kensington Gardens (to which he had a private key). In 1897 Barrie had met the beautiful Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, daughter of the novelist and cartoonist George du Maurier (1834–1896), a barrister's wife with several small boys, whom he saw in Kensington Gardens. He became mawkishly devoted to both mother and sons, and when the father, who had tolerated him, died young of cancer in 1907, Barrie seems to have largely assumed financial responsibility for the family. In the same year, the agitation against the Lord Chancellor's decision not to grant a licence for the play Waste by Harley Granville-Barker (1877–1946) brought the Barries into contact with the secretary of the committee, Gilbert Cannan. In 1909 Barrie discovered his wife's adultery with Cannan, and she announced her wish for a divorce. Shortly afterwards Sylvia Llewelyn Davies was diagnosed as having cancer: she died in 1910, and Barrie took in the five boys, aged between 6 and 17. The eldest, George, was killed in the war; his favourite, Michael, drowned while at Oxford in 1921. As the others grew up and left home Barrie developed a last devoted attachment to a married woman, his secretary, Lady Cynthia Asquith (d. 1960). If some of his plays—most famously Peter Pan, Alice-Sit-by-the-Fire (1905), Dear Brutus (1917), the familiar tale of what goes wrong when people get their wishes, and the super-natural tale Mary Rose (1920)—are glutinously sentimental, others, such as the feminist What Every Woman Knows (1908) and the one-act comedy The Twelve Pound Look (1910), have a satirical edge which reflects the influence of Oscar Wilde (1856–1900) and G.B. Shaw (1856–1950). If Barrie believed, nostalgically, that all men were really little boys, all women really mothers, he could be surprisingly sharp about the men and women who did not live up to their appointed roles” (The Oxford Companion to Edwardian Fiction).

Cutler, pp. 201-204. Item #00803

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