J M Barrie, author, playwright and creator of the much loved character...
J M Barrie, author, playwright and creator of the much loved character Peter Pan, was born in this house on 9 May 1860. It was here that he spent his early years, growing up immersed in the traditions of the small weaving community, and finding inspiration in everything around him.
The house is now a museum dedicated to telling the story of J M Barrie. The exhibition rooms explore Barrie's life, the inspirations of his childhood and adult life, his route to success, literary and stage works, and his enduring connection with Kirriemuir. Furniture and personal items that belonged to Barrie help to tell the story.
Elsewhere in the house two rooms have been recreated to appear as they would have done when Barrie was a boy. Along with the wash house, where Barrie rehearsed and performed his childhood plays, these rooms give visitors a sense of what life was like in the busy Barrie household.
The house gives a remarkable insight into J M Barrie’s formative childhood years – in which the seeds of Peter Pan were sown.
The tragic death of his older brother David in a skating accident left his mother inconsolable and Barrie has written of the times he sat on the cottage stairs and wept. He realised that even when he had grown into a man, his mother would always regard David as ‘the boy who wouldn’t grow up’.
The house features furniture, fittings and day-to-day effects which would be familiar to Barrie and his family, as well as memorabilia associated with his later celebrity.
Items include Barrie’s cradle; the silk christening robe used for Barrie and his nine siblings, which was also loaned out to other families in the parish; a copy of Barrie’s contract of payment promising the young Princess Margaret royalties of one penny per performance of his last play, The Boy David; the large oak settle from his Adelphi flat; and Barrie’s original desk from his London flat.
The house also incorporates an exhibition room with a tableau of the young Barrie being told stories by his mother and examples of the original costumes worn at the first production of Peter Pan.
The communal wash-house located outside the house was to play an important part in Barrie’s childhood. He performed his first play there (at the age of seven!) and, according to his dedication in Peter Pan, it was the inspiration behind the house that the Lost Boys built for Wendy in Never-Never Land.