Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens
London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1906. Item #05066
A Most Significant Copy of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens
Inscribed by J.M. Barrie to "Tootles"
RACKHAM, Arthur, illustrator. BARRIE, J.M. Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1906.
First edition, first impression. A remarkable presentation copy inscribed in ink on the half-title "To Joan Burnett / from her friend / J.M. Barrie / Christmas 1906"
On the verso of the half-title is another ink inscription "To dear Renée Deschamps / In loving memory of her Cousin / "Joan" / a gift from her / mother / Auntie Amy Donds / With much love to dear René / September 27 1922 / 7 New Steine Brighton / England"
Quarto (9 7/8 x 7 3/8 inches; 251 x 187 mm.). xii, 125,  pp. Tipped-in color frontispiece and forty-nine tipped-in color plates all mounted on heavy stock dark gray paper, each with a lettered tissue-guard.
On the half-title (on the top left above the inscription) is a booksellers neat pencil note "17184 / GIKRT / $150"
Publisher's russet cloth, front cover pictorially decorated in gilt, spine decoratively lettered in gilt. Heavy stock dark gray paper end-papers with map of Kensington Gardens. Small (7/8 inch) split at head of spine, very minor rubbing to extremities, otherwise a near fine copy. Chemised in a ca. 1930s quarter red morocco over red cloth slipcase, spine with five raised bands, lettered in gilt in compartments. Spine of slipcase a little faded.
This is an astonishing presentation copy of the first edition of “Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens,” inscribed by author J.M. Barrie to one of the 'lost Boys' in the original 1904 stage production at the Duke of York's Theatre in London.
"Peter Pan; or the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up or Peter and Wendy, often known simply as Peter Pan, is a work by J.M. Barrie, in the form of a 1904 play and a 1911 novel. Both versions tell the story of Peter Pan, a mischievous yet innocent little boy who can fly, and has many adventures on the island of Neverland that is inhabited by mermaids, fairies, Native Americana, and pirates. The Peter Pan stories also involve the characters Wendy Darling, and her two brothers, Peter's fairy Tinker Bell, the Lost Boys, and the pirate Captain Hook… The Play debuted at the Duke of York's Theatre in London on 27 December 1904 with Nina Boucicault, daughter of the playwright Dion Boucicault, in the title role… [and Miss Joan Burnett as Tootles].
The Lost Boys are characters from J.M. Barrie's 1904 play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up… They are boys "who fall out of their prams when the nurse is looking the other way and if they are not claimed in seven days, they are sent far away to the Neverland," where Peter Pan is their captain. There are no "lost girls" because, as Peter explains, girls are far too clever to fall out of their prams.
Tootles is described as the most unfortunate and humblest of the band, because "the big things" and adventures happen while "he has stepped round the corner." This however has not soured but sweetened his nature. He is the one who shoots Wendy with a bow and arrow after Tinker Bell tells them Wendy is a bird that Peter wants killed. When Tootles realizes his mistake, he asks Peter to kill him. Wendy however survives, and Tootles is spared. Tootles is the first to defend Wendy when she wants to return to London. When Peter takes possession of "The Jolly Roger," Captain Hook's pirate ship, Tootles takes Smee's place as boatswain. At the end of the novel, he returns to London with Wendy and the other lost boys and eventually grows up to become a judge." (Wikipedia - Lost Boys (Peter Pan)).
Provenance: James M. Barrie, who scarcely signed books, presented this copy to Joan Burnett (ca. 1890-1922), who played Tootles in the original stage production in December 1904 at the Duke of York's Theatre in London. Joan Burnett died in her early twenties and the book was presented on September 27th, 1922 by Joan's mother "Auntie Amy Donds" to her niece Renée Deschamps (ca. 1890-1978). It would appear that sometime later the book was either handled or purchased by a bookseller and that it was purchased for $150 by Sheila Rose Bolger Becker (ca. 1930-2000) who was a great friend of Auntie Amy Donds. Sheila Rose Bolger Becker (stage name Sheila Jackson) was a TV personality who hosted the US Steel Hour with Steve Allen in the 1960s. The book then passed to her daughter Lisa Becker Edmundson (b. 1959) from whom David Brass Rare Books, Inc. purchased it in March 2021.
Included is an original photo postcard (3 3/8 x 5 1/2 inches; 87 x 140 mm.) showing the 1904 cast of the play (including Joan Burnett as Tootles and Hilda Trevelyan (1877-1959) - the original 'Wendy'. The back of the postcard is inscribed (upside down) [by Auntie Amy Dolds] and reads "To Renée / From where / the spot is / The children in bed Wendy / telling them the / story". Also a very old bookseller's description and printed card - and a photographic playbill listing the original cast members.
This copy possesses one of the strongest author association of any that have yet to (or will likely ever) surface in the marketplace. It snaps the head back. This deeply satisfying example of the book - illustrated by Arthur Rackham to critical acclaim - is a collector’s dream…
With its strong association and inscription dated at the time of publication, our copy is undoubtedly one of the most significant and desirable examples extant.
Within the last fifty years, only four Barrie-inscribed copies of “Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens” have come to market. Four years ago we sold another copy of the same book with a presentation from J.M. Barrie dated January 1907 to Mary Hodgson who was the nanny of the Llewelyn boys George and Jack, and their baby brother Peter. These children were the inspiration for the character of Peter Pan. Of the three other copies, one was inscribed to his niece, Mary Barrie; the second to Godfrey Tearle, who played Captain Hook in the 1913-14 stage production, and another newly rebound copy inscribed to George Shelton who played Smee (Captain Hook's boatswain) in the original stage production.