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Peter Pan and the hospital

Peter Pan statue at the hospital
Peter Pan statue at the hospital

JM Barrie gave all the rights to Peter Pan to Great Ormond Street Hospital in 1929, and this was later confirmed when he died in 1937.

Since then the hospital has received royalties every time a production of the play is put on, as well as from the sale of Peter Pan books and other products.

Barrie requested that the amount raised from Peter Pan should never be revealed, and the hospital has always honoured his wishes.

Legacy

Although he and his wife were childless, Barrie loved children and had supported Great Ormond Street Hospital for many years.

In 1929 he was approached to sit on a committee to help buy some land so that the hospital could build a much needed new wing.

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JM Barrie dedication plaque
JM Barrie plaque

Barrie declined to serve on the committee but said that he "hoped to find another way to help".

Peter Pan

Two months later, the hospital board was stunned to learn that Sir James had handed over all his rights to Peter Pan.

At a Guildhall dinner later that year Barrie, as host, claimed that Peter Pan had been a patient in Great Ormond Street Hospital and that:

It was he who put me up to the little thing I did for the hospital.

So began the enduring link between the author and the children of Great Ormond Street Hospital. 

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Production of Peter Pan from 1929
Production of Peter Pan from 1929

Hospital performance

On 14 December 1929, at Barrie’s suggestion, the cast of a London production of Peter Pan came to the hospital.

They played out the nursery scene for the children, the first of a long tradition.

Look closely at the picture – the man peering over the back to get a better view is none other than Sir James Barrie himself!

Peter Pan archives and memorials

Peter Pan and memorials to J M Barrie can be found throughout the hospital, for example:

  • A bronze statue of Peter Pan and Tinker Bell outside the hospital entrance.

  • A plaque dedicated to Barrie in the hospital chapel (unveiled in 1938 by J B Priestley).

  • Tinker Bell play area in Octav Botnar Wing.

  • A tiled mural created and donated by the art students of the University of Wolverhampton.

Visits

Please note that the hospital is not a public place, but we are happy to arrange a tour of the hospital and the Peter Pan memorials by prior appointment.

The collection of Peter Pan editions, theatre programmes and memorabilia held at the charity offices, can be viewed by prior appointment.

If you would like to arrange a tour and a viewing of the collection please contact peterpan@gosh.org or call 020 7239 3000 (Mon-Fri 9.30am-5pm) to make an appointment.

Please note that visits can only be made on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 9.30am to 5pm (excluding bank holidays).
 

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