December 12, 2023

How Old Was Peter Pan?

Peter Pan, the boy who wouldn't grow up, is a popular children's character. He embodies the magic and wonder of childhood and a deep longing some adults have to return to a simpler time (per The New Yorker). J. M. Barrie created the character to help his mother cope with her depression after losing her husband and youngest son at a young age. The author was also a great lover of children; he donated the U.K. rights of his play to Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in 1929 (per Vox).

When Barrie first wrote the play, it was called Peter Pan or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up and premiered on 27 December 1904 at the Duke of York's Theatre in London. He later expanded the story into a novel published in 1911 as Peter and Wendy.

In the book, Barrie mentions that Peter still had his baby teeth, suggesting he was about 7 years old at the time of the play's premiere. This is the same age as the character in many of the earliest illustrations of him, although he appears older in the more modern movies that have been made about the story.

Jeremy Sumpter, the actor who plays Peter in the 2003 film, was 13 years old at the start of filming. He was a natural for the role, which he portrayed as an overgrown kid who lost his way as an adult and eventually rediscovers the magic of childhood (per Entertainment Weekly). In fact, he had played a number of overgrown kids in previous films, including Jack and Michael Llewelyn Davies in Steven Spielberg's 2002 movie adaptation and its 2005 sequel.


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