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How Did the Author of “Peter Pan” Improve Children’s Lives?

Peter Pan is the tale of a boy who never grows up. But that's fiction. In the real world, children do grow up, and some of them have the Scottish novelist and playwright J.M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, to thank. In 1929, Barrie gave the copyright to his famous children's novel and play to the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. The unexpected donation meant that from then on, all royalties earned by the story, including book sales and stage performances, would go to the hospital, which specializes in treating children and has a worldwide reputation as a leading heart transplantation facility. Peter Pan has never gone out of print, but the exact amount it brings in for the hospital has never been revealed, in accordance with Barrie's request. The author once told diners at a gathering that he had made the gift after a request from a special friend: "At one time, Peter Pan was an invalid in the Hospital… and it was he who put me up to the little thing I did."

All about the boy who could fly:

  • Great Ormond Street Hospital licensed the Peter Pan animation rights to Disney in 1939. Walt Disney had fond memories of starring as Peter Pan in a school play.
  • Released in 1953, Disney's Peter Pan cost $4 million USD to produce, but has since earned more than 20 times that amount.
  • In the original version of Peter Pan, the Darling children were able to fly unaided. Barrie later added "fairy dust" to his story after finding out that real-life children were getting hurt trying to fly off their beds.
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