J. M. Barrie

Best remembered today as the creator of Peter Pan, The Scottish author and dramatist, Sir James Matthew Barrie, 1st Baronet, OM sadly died 19 June 1937 after contracting Pneumonia. He was born 9 May 1860 in Kirriemuir, he was the child of a family of small-town weavers. At the age of 8, Barrie was sent to The Glasgow Academy, Scotland, in the care of his eldest siblings Alexander and Mary Ann, who taught at the school. When he was 10 he returned home and continued his education at the Forfar Academy. At 14, he left home for Dumfries Academy, again under the watch of Alexander and Mary Ann. He became a voracious reader, and was fond of Penny Dreadfuls, and the works of Robert Michael Ballantyne and James Fenimore Cooper.

At Dumfries he and his friends spent time in the garden of Moat Brae house, playing pirates “in a sort of Odyssey that was long afterwards to become the play of Peter Pan”.They formed a drama club, producing his first play Bandelero the Bandit, which provoked a minor controversy following a scathing moral denunciation from a clergyman on the school’s governing board. Barrie wished to follow a career as an author, but was dissuaded by his family who wanted him to have a profession such as the ministry. With advice from Alec, he was able to work out a compromise: he was to attend a university, but would study literature. He enrolled at the University of Edinburgh, where he wrote drama reviews for the Edinburgh Evening Courant. He graduated and obtained a M.A. on 21 April 1882.

He worked for a year and a half as a staff journalist on the Nottingham Journal following a job advertisement found by his sister in The Scotsman, then returned to Kirriemuir, using his mother’s stories about the town (which he renamed “Thrums”) for a piece submitted to the newspaper St. James’s Gazette in London. The editor ‘liked that Scotch thing’, so Barrie wrote a series of them, which served as the basis for his first novels: Auld Licht Idylls (1888), A Window in Thrums (1890), and The Little Minister, which eventually established Barrie as a successful writer. After the success of the “Auld Lichts”, he printed Better Dead (1888) privately and at his own expense, and it failed to sell. His two “Tommy” novels, Sentimental Tommy (1896) and Tommy and Grizel (1900), were about a boy and young man who clings to childish fantasy, with an unhappy ending.

Barrie began writing for the theatre, beginning with a biography of Richard Savage and written by both Barrie and H.B. Marriott Watson, this was followed by Ibsen’s Ghost (or Toole Up-to-Date) (1891), a parody of Henrik Ibsen’s dramas Hedda Gabler and Ghosts. His third play, Walker, London (1892), helped him be introduced to a young actress named Mary Ansell. He proposed to her and they were married on 9 July 1894. Barrie bought her a Saint Bernard puppy, who would play a part in the novel The Little White Bird (or Adventures in Kensington Gardens). He also gave Ansell’s given name to many characters in his novels. He then wrote Jane Annie, a failed comic opera for Richard D’Oyly Carte (1893), which he begged his friend Arthur Conan Doyle to revise and finish for him. In 1901 and 1902 he had back-to-back successes: Quality Street, about a responsible ‘old maid’ who poses as her own flirtatious niece to win the attention of a former suitor returned from the war; and The Admirable Crichton, a critically acclaimed social commentary with elaborate staging, about an aristocratic household shipwrecked on a desert island, in which the butler naturally rises to leadership over his lord and ladies for the duration of their time away from civilisation.

Peter Pan first appeared in his novel The Little White Bird, in 1902, and later in Barrie’s more famous and enduring work, Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, a “fairy play” about an ageless boy and an ordinary girl named Wendy who have adventures in the fantasy setting of Neverland. This was inspired by the Llewelyn Davis Boys whom he met in London who suggested a baby boy who has magical adventures in Kensington Gardens (included in The Little White Bird). It had its first stage performance on 27 December 1904. It has been performed innumerable times since then, and was developed by Barrie into the 1911 novel Peter and Wendy. It has since been adapted into feature films, musicals, and more. The Bloomsbury scenes show the societal constraints of late Victorian and Edwardian middle-class domestic reality, contrasted with Neverland, a world where morality is ambivalent. George Bernard Shaw’s description of the play as “ostensibly a holiday entertainment for children but really a play for grown-up people”, suggests deeper social metaphors at work in Peter Pan.

Following Peter Pan Barrie had many more successes on the stage including The Twelve Pound Look which concerns a wife divorcing a peer and gaining an independent income. Other plays, such as Mary Rose and a subplot in Dear Brutus, revisit the idea of the ageless child. Later plays included What Every Woman Knows (1908). His final play was The Boy David (1936), which dramatised the Biblical story of King Saul and the young David. Like the role of Peter Pan, that of David was played by a woman, Elisabeth Bergner, for whom Barrie wrote the play.

Barrie had many Friends including Novelist George Meredith, fellow Scot Robert Louis Stevenson, who lived in Samoa at the time, George Bernard Shaw who was his neighbour in London for several years, . H. G. Wells was also a friend of many years, and Barrie met Thomas Hardy through Hugh Clifford while he was staying in London. Although Barrie continued to write, Peter Pan quickly overshadowed his previous work and became his best-known work, and is credited with popularising the name Wendy, which was very uncommon previously. Barrie unofficially adopted the Davies boys following the deaths of their parents and was made a baronet by George V in 1913, and a member of the Order of Merit in 1922.

Barrie is buried at Kirriemuir next to his parents and two of his siblings. He left the bulk of his estate (excluding the Peter Pan works, which he had previously given to Great Ormond Street Hospital in April 1929) to his secretary Cynthia Asquith. His birthplace at 4 Brechin Road is maintained as a museum by the National Trust for Scotland. However, Ormond Street Hospital, continues to benefit from the somewhat complex arrangement.

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Tiananmen Square Protest Memorial Day

The Tiananmen Square Protest Memorial Day takes place annually on June 4 in remembrance of the Tiananmen Square Protest which happened 4 June 1989. These were student-led demonstrations in Beijing, the capital of the People’s Republic of China, in 1989 which called upon the Chinese Government to be more democratic. These protests were brutally suppressed by the authorities using troops with automatic rifles and tanks. Many demonstrators were killed trying to block the military’s advance towards Tiananmen Square and The number of civilian deaths has been estimated variously from 180 to 10,454.

The Tiananmen Square Protests took place During a period of rapid economic development and social changes in post-Mao China, and reflected anxieties about the country’s future in the popular consciousness and among the political elite. The reforms of the 1980s had led to a nascent market economy which benefitted some people but seriously disaffected others; the one-party political system also faced a challenge of legitimacy. Common grievances at the time included inflation, limited preparedness of graduates for the new economy, and restrictions on political participation. The students called for democracy, greater accountability, freedom of the press, and freedom of speech, though they were loosely organized and their goals varied. At the height of the protests, about a million people assembled in the Square.

As the protests developed, the authorities veered back and forth between conciliatory and hardline tactics, exposing deep divisions within the party leadership. By May, a student-led hunger strike galvanized support for the demonstrators around the country and the protests spread to some 400 cities. Ultimately, China’s paramount leader Deng Xiaoping and other Communist Party elders believed the protests to be a political threat, and resolved to use force. Communist Party authorities declared martial law on May 20, and mobilized as many as 300,000 troops to Beijing. The troops ruthlessly suppressed the protests by firing at demonstrators with automatic weapons, killing hundreds of protesters and leading to mass civil unrest in the days following.

The Chinese government was internationally denounced for the violent military response to the protests. Western countries imposed severe economic sanctions and arms embargoes on Chinese entities and officials. In response, the Chinese government verbally attacked the protestors and denounced Western nations who had imposed sanctions on China by accusing them of interference in China’s internal affairs, which elicited heavier condemnation by the West. It made widespread arrests of protesters and their supporters, suppressed other protests around China, expelled foreign journalists, strictly controlled coverage of the events in the domestic press, strengthened the police and internal security forces, and demoted or purged officials it deemed sympathetic to the protests. More broadly, the suppression temporarily halted the policies of liberalization in the 1980s. Considered a watershed event, the protests also set the limits on political expression in China well into the 21st century. Its memory is widely associated with questioning the legitimacy of Communist Party rule, and remains one of the most sensitive and most widely censored political topics in mainland China. In the days following the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, many memorials and vigils were held around the world. Hong Kong, China and the USA have all held different versions of memorials so that those who died will not be forgotten.

In 1990, on the first anniversary of the massacre, Reuters quoted an estimate of 15, 000 people who took part in the demonstration. Organizers from the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Democracy in China (also known as Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China) provided an estimate of 30,000. Southerland, Daniel (6 April 1990). “Massed Beijing Police Oversee Conformist Day of Mourning”. “The Washington Post” (1974-Current File; Pg. A5/ref> Attendees chanted “Long live democracy” and “Rescue those who live”.

Tensions were high in 1996, which marked the seventh anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre. Residents were not sure whether or not the annual demonstration would continue after the upcoming 1997 sovereignty handover of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China. Many Hong Kong natives feared they would lose the legal right to demonstrate after the handover, which made it so that the annual demonstration’s fate was in potential jeopardy. One demonstrator, Yeung Sum, voiced his support for continued demonstrations as he shouted out “this kind of demonstration must be publicly held after 1997”. According to the Globe and Mail, more than 20,000 attended. In the park there was a cenotaph, which was a replica of Heroes’ Monument (also known as the Monument to the People’s Heroes) in Tiananmen Square, and near this monument stood a reproduction of the highly symbolic Goddess of Democracy. Many Attendees “carried large funeral wreaths” to the base of the replicated Heroes’ Monument. When the floodlights dimmed, people passed several minutes of silence by raising thousands of candles.

The eighth anniversary, in 1997, was just before the handover (also known as the Transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong). People in the demonstration speculated that it might turn out to be the last vigil. Organizers estimated a total of 55,000 people, which was a record breaking number up to this point. According to the Associated Press the “demonstrators cut across many divisions” and included groups of people such as youth, business professionals, senior citizens, and workers City Hall approved the demonstration, as well as a “controversial three-story high sculpture”. This piece was called “The Pillar of Shame” and was lit up during the night.It portrayed “twisted bodies with agonized faces”. “The Pillar of Shame” was “controversial” partially because City Hall refused to allow the sculpture to be shown in public during the Hong Kong handover ceremony.

The ninth anniversary, in 1998, was significant because they were the “first protestors permitted to mourn the trauma of Tiananmen on Chinese soil”. This memorial service was also centred on the “controversial Pillar of Shame”. Demonstrators hung “large black banners” that read “reverse the verdict on June 4”, while other banners swore to “fight to the end” and to “never forget June 4”. Wei Jingsheng “sent a pre-recorded video message” that was broadcast through loud speakers and Wang Dan “spoke live from New York”.

The tenth anniversary, in 1999, also featured the controversial “Pillar of Shame” and according to the South China Morning Post, the sculpture included a column that read “the spirit of democracy martyrs will live forever”. The participants also sang “pro-democracy” songs and “chanted slogans”. Wang Dan’s mother, Wang Lingyun, “spoke to the crowd from a mobile phone after her line at home was cut off at 5 pm”. From San Francisco, Wang Dan also spoke to the crowd. During the fifteenth anniversary, in 2004, activists handed out leaflets, which encouraged mainland tourists to go to the vigil. Organizers reported that 82,000 people attended, which was up from last year’s count of 50,000.

The twentieth anniversary, in 2009, had about 150,000 attendees, according to organizers. This was the largest turnout since the first vigil nineteen years earlier, according to organizers. Police, however, recorded the number of attendees to only be about 62, 800. Attendees held candles and played traditional Chinese instruments, While chanting “Vindicate the student movement of 1989!”. China’s Ministry of Public Security issued a “written statement” about “security measures” taken prior to the beginning of the anniversary.This statement read “it’s one of our Public Security authorities’ important responsibilities to maintain and ensure social stability”.

In China Police are kept on alert during many of the anniversaries in order to guard against public displays of mourning. According to The Washington Post, Beijing “banned any mourning by groups not specifically authorized”. Similarly, during the third anniversary there was a sign in the centre of the Square that “warned visitors not to lay mourning wreaths”, unless the government had given the visitor consent at least five days in advance.

Several people have been arrested, or at least taken away for questioning, for attempting to mourn the victims publicly. One man was questioned for wearing a button that had the V-for-Victory sign and the word “Victory” on it in 1990. According to the New York Times, another man, in 1992, named Wang Wanxin “was dragged away after he tried to unfurl a banner calling on Deng Xiaoping to apologize for the 1989 army crackdown”. Some other modes of commemoration included 50 dissidents staging a 24-hour hunger strike in 2000 and private memorial services in people’s houses. In 1999, Su Bingxian lit a candle for her son who was killed in the massacre, while others lit ten symbolic candles.

On June 4, 2016, Taiwan held the island’s first ever commemoration in parliament of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown as lawmakers urged the new government to address human rights issues in its dealing with China. It comes weeks after China-sceptic Tsai Ing-wen was sworn in as president, succeeding Ma Ying-jeou who oversaw an unprecedented eight-year rapprochement with Beijing. In the past, Taiwan’s government has repeatedly urged China to learn lessons from the Tiananmen crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, in which more than 1,000 were killed according to some estimates. A day ahead of the June 4 anniversary, senior lawmakers from the DPP and the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang (KMT) were joined by human rights activists and exiled Chinese dissident Wu’er Kaixi as they observed a minute’s silence. They also signed a motion proposed by DPP lawmaker Yu Mei-nu to demand the government “express Taiwan’s serious concerns over redressing the June 4 incident at the appropriate time” in future interactions between the two sides.

In the United States, the first memorial was organized on the 100th day of June 4, 1989 by the Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars, and the second memorial service was organized also by the Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars in the Capitol Hill. Since then, Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars has been organized annual memorial services in front of the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC. In San Francisco, for the fifth anniversary, the city erected a 9 ½ feet bronze statue that was modeled after the original Goddess of Democracy. It is located in the edges of Chinatown, on a small park. Fang Lizhi and Nick Er Liang were at the unveiling. The designer, Thomas Marsh, used photographs of the original Goddess of Democracy as a model for his statue. Two Chinese students of his formed the torch, and another formed the face.

There are also many online memorials. For example, the organizers of the annual candlelight vigil, The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, have a website where people can sign the “Condolence Book for the victims of Tiananmen”. This is an online condolence book to be “burnt in front of the statue of democracy at the June 4 Candlelight vigil”. This website provides information about details of past anniversaries. There is also information about the June 4 massacre and gives information about other commemorative events.

Lilac Day

Fans of Terry Pratchett wear a lilac on 25 May in remembrance of the Glorious Revolution of Treacle Mine Road which took place during the novel Night Watch. Following Pratchett’s diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s in 2007, fans also Wear the Lilac in celebration of Pratchett and to raise awareness and funding for Alzheimer’s research.

The Revolution of Treacle Mine Road ended the increasingly tough reign of Lord Winder. Tension had been rising, and while the nobility arranged a quiet succession by Lord Snapcase in the background, the people on the streets started a revolution and attacked Watch Houses all over the city. A few streets around Treacle Mine Road were barricaded at first. Soon more people started barricading streets, barricades were moved forward and merged together, covering at least a quarter of the city – including the food industry. The resulting area was called The People’s Republic of Treacle Mine Road. The watchmen of the Treacle Mine Road Watch House led the Republic together with some enthusiastic angry young men, among them the then-living Reg Shoe.

A change in history resulted in Sam Vimes under the name of John Keel saving the Republic until Lord Snapcase became Patrician. Unfortunately Many people died, after an attack planned by Carcer prompted by Snapcase’s concerns about what “Keel” could get up to if left alone for a month after serving as such a prominent leader after less than a week in the city. In remembrance of these events Each year, on the 25th of May, a group of survivors of the uprising gathers at Small Gods’ Cemetery to honor the casualties with lilacs and, affectionately, one hard-boiled egg (from Madam Roberta Meserole). The seven killed were mostly Watchmen from Treacle Mine Road : John Keel, Cecil Clapman, Horace Nancyball, Billy Wiglet, Dai Dickins, Ned Coates, and, temporarily, Reg Shoe. The 25th of May is also memorialized, among those who survive, by the wearing of lilac on that date. Persons known to wear it include Sam Vimes, Fred Colon, Nobby Nobbs, Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler, and, improbably, Havelock Vetinari (he, at the time a young assassin, has kept his and his aristocratic aunt Lady Roberta Meserole’s, involvement secret.

L.Frank Baum

Best known for writing “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”, the prolific American author Lyman “L.” Frank Baum was born on May 15, 1856 in Chittenango, New York, in 1856, and grew up on his parents’ expansive estate, Rose Lawn. AS a young child, he was tutored at home with his siblings, but at the age of 12, he was sent to study at Peekskill Military Academy, and after two utterly miserable years he was allowed to return home. Baum started writing at an early age and His father bought him a cheap printing press; which, with the help of his younger brother Henry (Harry) Clay Baum, he used to produce The Rose Lawn Home Journal.

The brothers published several issues of the journal, Baum also established a second amateur journal, The Stamp Collector, he also printed “Baum’s Complete Stamp Dealers” Directory, and started a stamp dealership with friends. At the age of 20, Baum started breeding fancy poultry, and specialized in raising a particular breed of fowl, the Hamburg. In March 1880 he established a monthly trade journal, The Poultry Record, and in 1886, he published his first book: The Book of the Hamburgs: A Brief Treatise upon the Mating, Rearing, and Management of the Different Varieties of Hamburgs.

Baum, then became interested in theatre, performing under the stage names of Louis F. Baum and George Brooks. In 1880, his father built him a theatre in Richburg, New York, and he set about writing plays and gathering a company to act in them. The Maid of Arran, a melodrama with songs based on William Black’s novel A Princess of Thule, proved a modest success. Baum not only wrote the play but composed songs for it and also acted in the leading role. His aunt was also the founder of Syracuse Oratory School, and Baum advertised his services in her catalog to teach theatre, including stage business, playwriting, directing, and translating, revision, and operettas.

In 1882, Baum married Maud Gage, and in 1888 they moved to Aberdeen, Dakota, where he opened a store, “Baum’s Bazaar” and later editing a local newspaper, The Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer, where he wrote a column, “Our Landlady”. Baum’s description of Kansas in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is based on his experiences in drought-ridden South Dakota. After Baum’s newspaper failed in 1891, he, Maud and their four sons moved to Humboldt Park, Chicago, where Baum took a job reporting for the Evening Post. In 1897 he wrote and published Mother Goose in Prose, a collection of Mother Goose rhymes written as prose stories, which was illustrated by Maxfield Parrish. This was followed in 1899 when Baum partnered with illustrator W. W. Denslow, to publish Father Goose, which was a collection of nonsense poetry, which became the best-selling children’s book of the year.

In 1900, Baum and Denslow published The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to much critical acclaim and financial success, and this became the best-selling children’s book for two years after its initial publication. Baum went on to write thirteen more novels based on the places and people of the Land of Oz.Two years after Wizard’s publication, Baum and Denslow teamed up with composer Paul Tietjens and director Julian Mitchell to produce a musical stage version of the book under Fred R. Hamlin, which, opened in Chicago in 1902, then ran on Broadway for 293 stage nights from January to October 1903. It returned to Broadway in 1904, where it played from March to May and again from November to December. It successfully toured the United States with much of the same cast, until 1911, it differed considerably from the book, and was aimed primarily at adults.

Baum then wrote a sequel, The Woggle-Bug, however the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman were omitted from this adaptation. He later worked on a musical version of Ozma of Oz, which eventually became The Tik-Tok Man Of Oz. This did fairly well in Los Angeles, and also began a stage version of The Patchwork Girl of Oz. Baum also wrote several plays for various celebrations. and In 1914, after moving to Hollywood, Baum started his own film production company, The Oz Film Manufacturing Company. Many times during the development of the Oz series, Baum declared that he had written his last Oz book and devoted himself to other works of fantasy fiction based in other magical lands, However, persuaded by popular demand, letters from children, and the failure of his new books, he returned to the series each time.

Sadly on May 6th 1919 L Frank Baum passed away after having a stroke, nine days short of his 63rd birthday. He was buried in Glendale’s Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery. His final Oz book, Glinda of Oz, was published on July 10, 1920, a year after his death. The Oz series was continued long after his death by other authors, notably Ruth Plumly Thompson, who wrote an additional nineteen Oz books. his other works also remained popular after his death, with The Master Key appearing on St. Nicholas Magazine’s survey of readers’ favorite books well into the 1920s. His novels also predicted such century-later commonplaces as television, laptop computers (The Master Key), wireless telephones (Tik-Tok of Oz), women in high risk, action-heavy occupations (Mary Louise in the Country), and the ubiquity of advertising on clothing (Aunt Jane’s Nieces at Work), and the Wonderful Wizard of Oz series of books remains popular to this day and his novels have been adapted for screen numerous times, the most famous being the 1939 version starring Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale which is a perennial Favourite on television during holidays.

J. M. Barrie (Peter Pan)

Best remembered today as the creator of Peter Pan, The Scottish author and dramatist, Sir James Matthew Barrie, 1st Baronet, OM was born 9 May 1860 in Kirriemuir, he was the child of a family of small-town weavers. At the age of 8, Barrie was sent to The Glasgow Academy, Scotland, in the care of his eldest siblings Alexander and Mary Ann, who taught at the school. When he was 10 he returned home and continued his education at the Forfar Academy. At 14, he left home for Dumfries Academy, again under the watch of Alexander and Mary Ann. He became a voracious reader, and was fond of Penny Dreadfuls, and the works of Robert Michael Ballantyne and James Fenimore Cooper.

At Dumfries he and his friends spent time in the garden of Moat Brae house, playing pirates “in a sort of Odyssey that was long afterwards to become the play of Peter Pan”.They formed a drama club, producing his first play Bandelero the Bandit, which provoked a minor controversy following a scathing moral denunciation from a clergyman on the school’s governing board. Barrie wished to follow a career as an author, but was dissuaded by his family who wanted him to have a profession such as the ministry. With advice from Alec, he was able to work out a compromise: he was to attend a university, but would study literature. He enrolled at the University of Edinburgh, where he wrote drama reviews for the Edinburgh Evening Courant. He graduated and obtained a M.A. on 21 April 1882.

He worked for a year and a half as a staff journalist on the Nottingham Journal following a job advertisement found by his sister in The Scotsman, then returned to Kirriemuir, using his mother’s stories about the town (which he renamed “Thrums”) for a piece submitted to the newspaper St. James’s Gazette in London. The editor ‘liked that Scotch thing’, so Barrie wrote a series of them, which served as the basis for his first novels: Auld Licht Idylls (1888), A Window in Thrums (1890), and The Little Minister, which eventually established Barrie as a successful writer. After the success of the “Auld Lichts”, he printed Better Dead (1888) privately and at his own expense, and it failed to sell. His two “Tommy” novels, Sentimental Tommy (1896) and Tommy and Grizel (1900), were about a boy and young man who clings to childish fantasy, with an unhappy ending.

Barrie began writing for the theatre, beginning with a biography of Richard Savage and written by both Barrie and H.B. Marriott Watson, this was followed by Ibsen’s Ghost (or Toole Up-to-Date) (1891), a parody of Henrik Ibsen’s dramas Hedda Gabler and Ghosts. His third play, Walker, London (1892), helped him be introduced to a young actress named Mary Ansell. He proposed to her and they were married on 9 July 1894. Barrie bought her a Saint Bernard puppy, who would play a part in the novel The Little White Bird (or Adventures in Kensington Gardens). He also gave Ansell’s given name to many characters in his novels. He then wrote Jane Annie, a failed comic opera for Richard D’Oyly Carte (1893), which he begged his friend Arthur Conan Doyle to revise and finish for him. In 1901 and 1902 he had back-to-back successes: Quality Street, about a responsible ‘old maid’ who poses as her own flirtatious niece to win the attention of a former suitor returned from the war; and The Admirable Crichton, a critically acclaimed social commentary with elaborate staging, about an aristocratic household shipwrecked on a desert island, in which the butler naturally rises to leadership over his lord and ladies for the duration of their time away from civilisation.

Peter Pan first appeared in his novel The Little White Bird, in 1902, and later in Barrie’s more famous and enduring work, Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, a “fairy play” about an ageless boy and an ordinary girl named Wendy who have adventures in the fantasy setting of Neverland. This was inspired by the Llewelyn Davis Boys whom he met in London who suggested a baby boy who has magical adventures in Kensington Gardens (included in The Little White Bird). It had its first stage performance on 27 December 1904. It has been performed innumerable times since then, and was developed by Barrie into the 1911 novel Peter and Wendy. It has since been adapted into feature films, musicals, and more. The Bloomsbury scenes show the societal constraints of late Victorian and Edwardian middle-class domestic reality, contrasted with Neverland, a world where morality is ambivalent. George Bernard Shaw’s description of the play as “ostensibly a holiday entertainment for children but really a play for grown-up people”, suggests deeper social metaphors at work in Peter Pan.

Following Peter Pan Barrie had many more successes on the stage including The Twelve Pound Look which concerns a wife divorcing a peer and gaining an independent income. Other plays, such as Mary Rose and a subplot in Dear Brutus, revisit the idea of the ageless child. Later plays included What Every Woman Knows (1908). His final play was The Boy David (1936), which dramatised the Biblical story of King Saul and the young David. Like the role of Peter Pan, that of David was played by a woman, Elisabeth Bergner, for whom Barrie wrote the play.

Barrie had many Friends including Novelist George Meredith, fellow Scot Robert Louis Stevenson, who lived in Samoa at the time, George Bernard Shaw who was his neighbour in London for several years. H. G. Wells was also a friend of many years, and Barrie met Thomas Hardy through Hugh Clifford while he was staying in London. Although Barrie continued to write, Peter Pan quickly overshadowed his previous work and became his best-known work, and is credited with popularising the name Wendy, which was very uncommon previously. Barrie unofficially adopted the Davies boys following the deaths of their parents and was made a baronet by George V in 1913, and a member of the Order of Merit in 1922.

Unfortunately Barrie tragically died of pneumonia on 19 June 1937. He was buried at Kirriemuir next to his parents and two of his siblings and left the bulk of his estate (excluding the Peter Pan works, which he had previously given to Great Ormond Street Hospital in April 1929) to his secretary Cynthia Asquith. His birthplace at 4 Brechin Road is maintained as a museum by the National Trust for Scotland. However, Ormond Street Hospital, continues to benefit from the arrangement involving the Peter Pan novels.

L.Frank Baum

Best known for writing “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”, the prolific American author Lyman “L.” Frank Baum sadly passed away 6th May 1919. He was born on May 15, 1856 in Chittenango, New York, in 1856, and grew up on his parents’ expansive estate, Rose Lawn. AS a young child, he was tutored at home with his siblings, but at the age of 12, he was sent to study at Peekskill Military Academy, and after two utterly miserable years he was allowed to return home. Baum started writing at an early age and His father bought him a cheap printing press; which, with the help of his younger brother Henry (Harry) Clay Baum, he used to produce The Rose Lawn Home Journal.

The brothers published several issues of the journal, Baum also established a second amateur journal, The Stamp Collector, he also printed “Baum’s Complete Stamp Dealers” Directory, and started a stamp dealership with friends. At the age of 20, Baum started breeding fancy poultry, and specialized in raising a particular breed of fowl, the Hamburg. In March 1880 he established a monthly trade journal, The Poultry Record, and in 1886, he published his first book: The Book of the Hamburgs: A Brief Treatise upon the Mating, Rearing, and Management of the Different Varieties of Hamburgs.

Baum, then became interested in theatre, performing under the stage names of Louis F. Baum and George Brooks. In 1880, his father built him a theatre in Richburg, New York, and he set about writing plays and gathering a company to act in them. The Maid of Arran, a melodrama with songs based on William Black’s novel A Princess of Thule, proved a modest success. Baum not only wrote the play but composed songs for it and also acted in the leading role. His aunt was also the founder of Syracuse Oratory School, and Baum advertised his services in her catalog to teach theatre, including stage business, playwriting, directing, and translating, revision, and operettas.

In 1882, Baum married Maud Gage, and in 1888 they moved to Aberdeen, Dakota, where he opened a store, “Baum’s Bazaar” and later editing a local newspaper, The Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer, where he wrote a column, “Our Landlady”. Baum’s description of Kansas in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is based on his experiences in drought-ridden South Dakota. After Baum’s newspaper failed in 1891, he, Maud and their four sons moved to Humboldt Park, Chicago, where Baum took a job reporting for the Evening Post. In 1897 he wrote and published Mother Goose in Prose, a collection of Mother Goose rhymes written as prose stories, which was illustrated by Maxfield Parrish. This was followed in 1899 when Baum partnered with illustrator W. W. Denslow, to publish Father Goose, which was a collection of nonsense poetry, which became the best-selling children’s book of the year.

In 1900, Baum and Denslow published The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to much critical acclaim and financial success, and this became the best-selling children’s book for two years after its initial publication. Baum went on to write thirteen more novels based on the places and people of the Land of Oz.Two years after Wizard’s publication, Baum and Denslow teamed up with composer Paul Tietjens and director Julian Mitchell to produce a musical stage version of the book under Fred R. Hamlin, which, opened in Chicago in 1902, then ran on Broadway for 293 stage nights from January to October 1903. It returned to Broadway in 1904, where it played from March to May and again from November to December. It successfully toured the United States with much of the same cast, until 1911, it differed considerably from the book, and was aimed primarily at adults.

Baum then wrote a sequel, The Woggle-Bug, however the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman were omitted from this adaptation. He later worked on a musical version of Ozma of Oz, which eventually became The Tik-Tok Man Of Oz. This did fairly well in Los Angeles, and also began a stage version of The Patchwork Girl of Oz. Baum also wrote several plays for various celebrations. and In 1914, after moving to Hollywood, Baum started his own film production company, The Oz Film Manufacturing Company. Many times during the development of the Oz series, Baum declared that he had written his last Oz book and devoted himself to other works of fantasy fiction based in other magical lands, However, persuaded by popular demand, letters from children, and the failure of his new books, he returned to the series each time.

Sadly on May 6th 1919 L Frank Baum passed away after having a stroke, nine days short of his 63rd birthday. He was buried in Glendale’s Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery. His final Oz book, Glinda of Oz, was published on July 10, 1920, a year after his death. The Oz series was continued long after his death by other authors, notably Ruth Plumly Thompson, who wrote an additional nineteen Oz books. his other works also remained popular after his death, with The Master Key appearing on St. Nicholas Magazine’s survey of readers’ favorite books well into the 1920s. His novels also predicted such century-later commonplaces as television, laptop computers (The Master Key), wireless telephones (Tik-Tok of Oz), women in high risk, action-heavy occupations (Mary Louise in the Country), and the ubiquity of advertising on clothing (Aunt Jane’s Nieces at Work), and the Wonderful Wizard of Oz series of books remains popular to this day and his novels have been adapted for screen numerous times, the most famous being the 1939 version starring Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale which is a perennial Favourite on television during holidays.

And now for something completely different…

English Telvision presenter, broadcaster and comedian Michael Palin CBE FRGS was born 5th May 1943. He is Best known for starring in the British Comedy television series MontyPythons Fying circus alongside Graham Chapman , John Cleese, Terry Jones and Eric Idle.The members of Monty Python were all highly educated. Terry Jones and Michael Palin are Oxford University graduates; Eric Idle, John Cleese, and Graham Chapman attended Cambridge University; and American-born member Terry Gilliam is an Occidental College graduate Before Joining Monty Python. Palin wrote comedic material with Terry Jones on other shows such as the Ken Dodd Show, The Frost Report and Do Not Adjust Your Set. Palin appeared in some of the most famous Python sketches, including “Argument Clinic”, “Dead Parrot”, “The Lumberjack Song”, “The Spanish Inquisition”, and “The Fish-Slapping Dance”.

The first episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus aired on BBC One on the 5th October 1969 and there were 45 Episodes spread over four seasons until December 1974 on BBC Television. The comedy was often pointedly intellectual, with numerous erudite references to philosophers and literary figures. The series followed and elaborated upon the style used by Spike Milligan in his groundbreaking series Q5. The team intended their humour to be impossible to categorise, and succeeded so completely that the adjective “Pythonesque” was invented to define it.The shows were composed of surreality, risqué or innuendo-laden humour, sight gags and observational sketches without punchlines. They also featured Terry Gilliam’s wonderful and imaginatively bizarre animations, often sequenced or merged with live action.

Broadcast by the BBC. with 45 episodes airing over four series from 1969 to 1974, The show often targets the idiosyncrasies of British life, especially that of professionals, and is at times politically charged. Over the years many of the sketches have attained classic status including The Lumberjack Song, Ministry of Silly Walks, Upper class twit of the Year, Spam song, The Dead Parrot Sketch and Bicycle Repair Man. Graham Chapman also played the lead roles in two of the Python’s Films – Monty Python and The Holy Grail, Life of Brian. Eric Idle also appeared in the the children’s series Do Not Adjust Your Set, alongside Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam’s surreal animations which linked the show’s sketches together, and defined Monty Python’s visual language in other media (such as LP and book covers, and the title sequences of their films).

Since Monty Python split Michael Palin continued to work with Jones co-writing Ripping Yarns. He has also appeared in several films directed by fellow Python Terry Gilliam and made notable appearances in other films such as A Fish Called Wanda, for which he won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role] In a 2005 poll to find The Comedians’ Comedian, he was voted the 30th favourite by fellow comedians and comedy insiders.After Python, he began a new career as a travel writer and travel documentarian. His journeys have taken him across the world, including the North and South Poles, the Sahara Desert, the Himalayas, Eastern Europe and Brazil. In 2000 Palin was honoured as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to television. From 2009 to 2012 Palin was also the president of the Royal Geographical Society