I first saw the Walt Disney production of Peter Pan when I was seven years old. It had been originally released in 1953, and then re-released five additional times, in 1958, 1969, 1976, 1982, and 1989. Disney has been interested in an animated version of the book by J.M. Barrie (1860-1937) since 1935, but World War II delayed the project until the 1950s. Barrie’s story was first produced for the London stage in 1904.
I was a few decades older than seven when I was standing in the gift shop at St. Martin-in-the-Field in London, holding a small, Collector’s Library edition of the book. I realized I’d never read it. The church made a sale that day and the book found its way into my suitcase home. The story is different from the movie, but Disney stayed true to the basic outline.
From about the age of 10, I’ve been reading the Sherlock Holmes stories of Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930). I’m not sure what to call them; legends, perhaps, or the great myths of detective fiction? A Study in Scarlet, the novel and the first appearance of Holmes, was published in 1887. Doyle was rather ambivalent about Holmes and at one point killed him off; the reading public was not impressed, and 10 years later, Doyle resurrected him, going on to write more stories and the novels The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Valley of Fear. Despite their relatively short run, the stories of Holmes and Dr. John Watson have never let go of the world’s imagination.
In late 1891, four months after the first Sherlock Holmes short story, a parody was published in Speaker Magazine, entitled “My Evening with Sherlock Holmes.” The anonymous author turned out to be one J.M. Barrie.
To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.
Illustrations: James M. Barrie (left) and Arthur Conan Doyle (right).