Dark Origins – Peter Pan, Lost Boys who are murdered and mermaids who are Sirens.

Most of us know the Disney version of Peter Pan featuring Captain Hook, Mr Smee, Wendy, John, Michael, and the Lost Boys. Oh, and Tinkerbell, of course.

I am not sure how many people have read the original play called Peter Pan or the boy who wouldn’t grow up, written by J.M. Barrie in 1904, but it is a far cry from the innocent tale presented by Walt Disney.

We know from the Disney film that Peter Pan doesn’t want to grow up, but no mention is made of the extreme lengths Peter Pan is prepared to go to fight it.

Consider this extract: “The boys on the island vary, of course, in numbers, according as they get killed and so on; and when they seem to be growing up, which is against the rules, Peter thins them out; but at this time there were six of them, counting the twins as two.

To put it bluntly, Peter Pan kills the lost boys to keep them from aging. While the film presents the view that Peter Pan is seeking eternal youth, he is, in fact, obsessed with death. This characteristic is believed to come from J.M. Barrie’s own childhood experience of losing his brother, David.

According to an article in The Herald, six-year old Jamie Barrie was hugely impacted by the death of his older brother, David, at the age of fourteen. David was said to have died the day before his birthday when he was accidently knocked over by a friend while skating, and fractured his skull on the ice. The article speculates that the ‘friend’ was in fact, young Jamie and that he was rejected by his mother as a result of the accident. You can read more about it here: https://www.heraldscotland.com/default_content/12469608.tragedy-behind-neverland-jm-barrie-cause-brothers-death/

And then there are the mermaids…

In the original Peter Pan story, the mermaids who inhabit Neverland all live in the lagoon. They enjoy the company of Peter Pan but are malevolent to everyone else. The are extraordinarily beautiful and have amazing singing voices, but they are vain and unfriendly.

The mermaids spend their days playing in the rock pools and ocean around Marooners’ Rock and they retire to their coral cave homes beneath the waves at night and during high tide.

The mermaids change when the moon is out and transform into darker creatures. They utter and wail strange calls in the moonlight. Captain Hook is terrified of the mermaids, calling them the ‘loreleis’ and saying that the lagoon is the most treacherous place in Neverland. A lorelei is a siren of Germanic legend whose singing lures Rhine River boatmen to destruction on a reef.

Picture credit: https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Q5397781

If you are interested in the true story behind Peter Pan and the life of J.M. Barrie, you can read more here: https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2014/12/78880/peter-pan-jm-barrie-true-story

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a South African writer and poet specialising in historical, paranormal, and horror novels and short stories. She is an avid reader in these genres and her writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.

Roberta has short stories and poems in several anthologies and has 2 published novels, Through the Nethergate, a historical supernatural fantasy, and A Ghost and His Gold, a historical paranormal novel set in South Africa.

Roberta has 9 children’s books published under the name Robbie Cheadle.

Roberta was educated at the University of South Africa where she achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. She was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.

Roberta has worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and has written 7 publications relating to investing in Africa. She has won several awards over her 20-year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.

Find Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Blog: https://wordpress.com/view/robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobertaEaton17

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robertawrites

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Roberta-Eaton-Cheadle/e/B08RSNJQZ5


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41 Comments on “Dark Origins – Peter Pan, Lost Boys who are murdered and mermaids who are Sirens.”

  1. Well now, that puts a whole new spin on things, doesn’t it!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Staci Troilo says:

    Poor Jamie. Imagine the trauma of accidentally killing your brother then being rejected by your mother. I can’t conceive of the pain he had to live with. I didn’t know the history behind Peter Pan. Thanks for sharing this.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Reblogged this on and commented:

    I am over at Writing to be Read with another Dark Origins post. This one is about Peter Pan the original of which is nothing like the Disney film. Thanks for hosting me, Kaye Lynne Booth.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Not a story we would ever let our kids read!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Probably not, Jacqui. There is probably some or other law against it. Mind you, I always subscribed to ‘if they can read it, and want to read it, then they may read it’. Luckily for me, my mom never knew what I was reading – she was two busy with my two baby sisters [smile!]

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I watched a movie about Barrie’s life. I’m always interested in the stories behind the stories or what motivated the writers to write the stories. Great post, Robbie.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Mae Clair says:

    That was fascinating, Robbie. I had no clue about any of it, most especially the speculation about Barrie’s fascination with death.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. BERNADETTE says:

    It is amazing how dark this story is, and the background is so sad. I saw a movie about Barrie but there wasn’t a hint of this darkness talked about.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m really enjoying this “Dark Origins” series. Even as a child, I objected to the Disneyfication of literature.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Carla says:

    Well, that is definitely a lot darker. When I watched the television series, Once Upon a Time, it had a darker storyline for Peter Pan than Disney. Very interesting origins here.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Norah says:

    It doesn’t sound like a very pleasant story, Robbie.
    How tragic to lose a brother that way. It would be difficult to not obsess over it, especially if you caused it.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Jim Borden says:

    that is quite different from the Disney version! and it seems like there are many variations of the lorelei legend…

    Liked by 2 people

  12. That’s so terribly sad about the possible origin of the story, Robbie. The poor kid. Peter Pan killing off the lost boys is a bit ghastly, but wicked mermaids… they’re intriguing, aren’t they?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Diana, I have to admit that I love dark so wicked mermaids are right up my street. I am just finishing The Shadows we Breath anthology and then I’ll be reading your book. The anthology certainly showcases some beautifully descriptive writing.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’m so glad you’re enjoying the anthology, Robbie. It’s the first one that I’ve participated in, which was a new and interesting experience. And I look forward to hearing what you think of my mermaids. Lol. Happy Reading!

        Liked by 1 person

  13. markbierman says:

    I was aware that the original tale was much darker than Disney’s version, but I had no idea of the exact details until this post. Fascinating piece, Robbie.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Impressed how Disney took that darkness and made it the Peter Pan we know today.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. […] source material alone is full of characters and ideas that would translate to a horror […]

    Liked by 1 person

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