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Neverland: J.M. Barrie, the Du Mauriers, and the Dark Side of Peter Pan Hardcover – 15 Oct 2009
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Dudgeon's portrait of Barrie-as a man who filled the vacuum of his own sexual impotence by a compulsive desire to possess the family who inspired his most famous creation, Peter Pan-will be of interest to anyone who has followed the twists of the du Maurier family history. -- Justine Picardie, author of Daphne
Starred Review. Over the course of what becomes a page-turner, Dudgeon charts the lives of three generations of writers to show how the sins, dark gifts, and obsessions of the famed Punch illustrator and best-selling novelist du Maurier were visited on the author of Peter Pan. "
A history of psychological domination and submission, unnatural family relations, predatory abuse and suicide. --Michael Dirda"
Neverland has hot- and cold-running secrets, as well as tentacles that extend out to touch Henry James, D. H. Lawrence, and Arthur Conan Doyle. --Janet Maslin"
Neverland has hot- and cold-running secrets, as well as tentacles that extend out to touch Henry James, D. H. Lawrence, and Arthur Conan Doyle. --Janet Maslin
A history of psychological domination and submission, unnatural family relations, predatory abuse and suicide.--Michael Dirda
Dudgeon also portrays Barrie as a dark and troubled man who may have used hypnotism to gain an obsessive control over the Du Maurier boys and their mother. He goes on to look at Barrie's link to the tragic demise of the boys, from the drowning of Michael to the suicide of Peter.... this will appeal most to those with a specific interest in these authors.
Meticulous and highly provocative... Dudgeon knows what he's doing and builds his case with precision and coolness... It's a gripping read that exposes the dark side to two seemingly innocent activities, writing and loving children... Dudgeon has exposed, in quite a magnificent way, the power and potential for abuse in both.
A rattling grisly read... 'May God blast anyone who writes a biography of me, ' Barrie warned and his curse was surely aimed at Dudgeon, who goes further than any other biographer... I defy you not to be captivated.--Frances Wilson
Dudgeon...has negotiated the dark back-tracks and by-ways of Barrie's chilling Neverland.... He tells a terrible story without sentimentality, without sensationalism and without undue psychologising... Intelligently and feelingly done.--Brian Morton
About the Author
Piers Dudgeon worked closely with Daphne du Maurier on her book Enchanted Cornwall. He began his research on his book Neverland after learning that Daphne had placed a moratorium on her diaries until fifty years after her death. Piers has worked with authors as diverse as John Fowles, Peter Ackroyd, Shirley Conran and Ted Hughes. He lives in London.
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The author believes that J.M. Barrie, who wrote "Peter Pan," was a psychotic manipulator of others, a pedophile who may or may not have sexually abused four of the five sons of Sylvia Du Maurier Llewelyn Davies (the aunt of Daphne). He assuredly ruined their ability to cope with the world of reality, in the author's opinion, by hypnotically coaching them to share his fantasies.
He further believes that Daphne Du Maurier was enlisted into a (perhaps fantasy, perhaps actual) incestual relationship with her father -- again, the driving force was Barrie's need to pull vulnerable young people into a fantasy world with dangerous, malevolent shadows.
It would have been a better book if Piers Dudgeon had laid out his considerable evidence without moving to such assured conclusions. As it is, the reader feels (rather fears) a sort of hatchet job has been performed on an impressively gifted writer, and that excuses have been offered for a second writer whose personal life was arguably more objectionable than the first.