Like many other children, young writers often dream of becoming professional athletes. However, also like most other children, they don’t have the skill.
About a hundred and thirty years ago, a group of writers in England decided to do something about the problem. They all loved the game of cricket, which is similar to baseball, so they formed a team. They weren’t very good, but they had fun!
One member of the team was P.J. Wodehouse. He is famous for creating a comic character named Jeeves, who is a very wise servant. His employer is a member of the upper-class. Mr. Wooster isn’t very bright.
Let’s let Jeeves introduce some of the other members of the team.
“(1) Hello, kids, can you name a famous book character who never wanted to grow up?
“(2) Peter Pan? (3) Right-o. (4) Or as you Americans might say, ‘Right on.’ (5) It’s a book by J.M. Barrie. (6) Like Peter, he tried very hard never to grow up.
“(7) Barrie was from Scotland. (8) Sad to say, he had a terrible thing happen when he was six.
“(9) His brother, David (their mother’s favorite), died in an ice-skating accident on the day before David’s 14th birthday. (10) His mother was so sad that James dressed up in his brother’s clothes, trying to stop her from crying so much. (11) When his mother saw him entering her room, she asked, ‘Is that you, David?’ (12) Poor little James had to say, ‘No, Mum, it’s me. James.’
(13) “‘Come to me,’ she said and opened her arms. (14) She hugged him and ran her fingers through his hair. (15) ‘Promise me, James, promise me you will never grow up and leave me.’
(16) “‘I promise!’ (17) He hugged her. (18) They were both crying.
(19) “James seems to have kept his promise. (20) He wrote Peter Pan, the story of a boy who never grows up.
“Don’t have a mother,” Peter Pan said. Not only had he no mother, but he had not the slightest desire to have one. He thought them very over-rated persons. Wendy, however, felt at once that she was in the presence of a tragedy.
“O Peter, no wonder you were crying,” she said, and got out of bed and ran to him.
“I wasn’t crying about mothers,” he said rather indignantly. “I was crying because I can’t get my shadow to stick on. Besides, I wasn’t crying.”
“It has come off?”
Then Wendy saw the shadow on the floor, looking so draggled, and she was frightfully sorry for Peter. “How awful!” she said, but she could not help smiling when she saw that he had been trying to stick it on with soap. How exactly like a boy!
Fortunately, she knew at once what to do. “It must be sewn on,” she said, just a little patronizingly.
“What’s sewn?” he asked.
“You’re dreadfully ignorant.”
“No, I’m not.”
But she was exulting in his ignorance. “I shall sew it on for you, my little man,” she said, though he was tall as herself, and she got out her housewife, and sewed the shadow onto Peter’s foot.
(21) When James was older and rich, he adopted five boys whose parents – who were friends of his – were killed. (22) James provided for their needs all the way through college. (23) Peter is based on one of the boys.
(24) “Later, Barrie started a cricket team and invited all his writer friends. (25) Each Saturday they would have a game – a time when they could pretend, if only for an afternoon – that they had never grown up.”