the majority of the photographs vintage prints, some taken by J.M. Barrie himself, others by named photographers or studios including Alexander Bassano, in various sizes from miniature ovals or cartes-de-visites to portraits and landscapes, chiefly Silver Prints, but also including Platinum, Carbon, Albumen and Printing-Out-Paper prints, preserved in oblong folio album (292 x 240mm.), photographs on 43 pages, text in ballpoint in the hand of Margaret Ruthven (wife of Peter Llewelyn Davies) on three full pages with her captions, numbers and lettering throughout (some images with red or green stickers next to them), together with a drawing of Barrie by Peter Llewellyn Davies (78 x 83mm.), a reproduction of Furse's portrait of Sylvia du Maurier, one other print and some newspaper cuttings, held in photo corners or glued into half black morocco album (two images loose), blank leaves at the end, photographs chiefly early twentieth century (see below), album assembled early 1950s, two photographs detached from album, some occasional slight foxing, discoloration or fading, spine of album broken, upper cover detached
Margaret Leslie ("Pee") Llewellyn Davies (née Hore-Ruthven, died c.1960), wife of Peter, her notes, family tree and caption in ballpoint, headed at the beginning "A Little Account of the | DAVIES and du Maurier Families | By M.L.D. February 27th 1953 BOVENY COURT WINDSOR"); their eldest son Ruthven ("Rivvy") Llewellyn Davies (1933-1995); acquired from the Estate by the present owner
The main archive documenting the real-life story of "Peter Pan", assembled by the screenwriter Andrew Birkin, was sold by Sotheby's in 2004 in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital (sale of 16 December, lots 274--292). This included the main photographic archive (lot 290, £40,000), formerly the property of Nico, and also other papers of Peter Llewelyn Davies. The present album was seen and photographed in the 1970s by Birkin when he was researching his BBC adaptation of the real life story behind Peter Pan, broadcast as The Lost Boys in 1979. A number of images (sometimes cropped) were subsequently reproduced from his 35mm negatives in his later biography of Barrie and the boys. In the most recent (revised) edition of his biography published by Yale in 2003, these appear, for instance, on pp. 84, 113, 125, 140, p.152, 158 and 180.
Sotheby's is grateful to Mr Andrew Birkin for his assistance in the cataloguing of this lot.
The "lost" album of J.M. Barrie and his adopted "lost" boys: secretly assembled by the wife of Peter Llewelyn Davies: it was Peter, together with his brothers George, Jack, Michael and Nico, who inspired the story of "Peter Pan".
At least 40 of these photographs, including several taken by the author himself, are the only known prints recording key moments in the lives of the young Llewelyn Davies boys with J.M Barrie. These include, for instance, five out of the eight photographs on pp.35-36 from the famous holiday around Black Lake, near Tilford in Surrey, in 1901, when the boys acted out "The Boy Castaways" (the precursor to Peter Pan: see below) and two of the celebrated images of Michael dressed up as "Peter Pan" at Rustington in July 1906 (these almost certainly all taken by Barrie himself).
The subjects include: J.M. Barrie: several, including seated on the grass with Michael, both wearing hats, c.1904; with Michael posing with fishing gear in 1911; a portrait, 1912; also of J.M. Barrie's dog Porthos; also a pencil drawing of Barrie by Peter Llewelyn Davies, showing him seated on the grass, with hat, smoking a pipe, captioned "Mr Barrie | By Peter"; the Llewelyn Davies boys: numerous photographs, both individual portraits and in groups, of George, Jack, Peter, Michael and Nico, in infanthood, as young boys, some with their mother Sylvia or father Arthur, several of the boys naked on the beach near Rustington; George, Jack and Peter dressed up as "The Boy Castaways" at Black Lake in Surrey in 1901 (probably all taken by Barrie), three also featuring their mother Sylvia, together with one of Barrie's dog Porthos), celebrated images of Michael dressed up as "Peter Pan" and photographed by Barrie at Rustington in July 1906; a beautiful and unique print of Michael, aged 4, resting his hand on a ram; one with Sylvia and Michael acting out Romeo and Juliet, probably at Dives in Normandy in 1905; George at Eton in 1907; Peter as a soldier in France in 1916 and 1918; various of the boys as sportsmen; Peter aged 16 months (image altered by hand, showing him carrying a programme to Barrie's play "The Greedy Dwarf", performed at Barrie's house on 7 January 1901; with note on the reverse by Sylvia du Maurier, addressed to Barrie "from Peterkin"); some also featuring their nanny Mary Hodgson or the family cat Cynthia, and other members of the family; Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (neé du Maurier): several individual portraits, variously full-frontal, reclining, in profile and from behind (chiefly c.1900, e.g. at Rustington, 1900); other members of the Llewelyn Davies family, including many of Arthur at various ages (with his mother or nanny as a baby, aged 11, as a master at Eton etc), also of John (Arthur's father, the radical scholar and theologian) and his wife Mary, and the other children Charles, Maurice, Harry, Theodore, Margaret; some views of the vicarage and family home at Kirkby Lonsdale; other members of the du Maurier family, including individual portraits of Sylvia's father George (author of Trilby and Peter Ibbetson, after whom Peter was named) and her siblings Gerald (the actor) and Guy (professional soldier); some family portraits, some also of interiors; locations including Tilford in Surrey, Burpham, Black Lake, Rustington, Dives, Paris, Egerton House in Berkhamsted, Kirby Lonsdale, Ramsgate, Scotland, chiefly 1893 - 1911
The friendship which began in 1897 in Kensington Gardens between J.M. Barrie and the first three Llewelyn Davies boys George (b.1893), Jack (b.1894), and Peter (b.1897), and then later with their brothers Michael (b.1900) and Nico (b.1903) inspired the story of "Peter Pan". The story first appeared in Barrie's novel The Little White Bird (1902), and was then developed into the play Peter Pan or the Boy who Wouldn't Grow Up, first performed in December 1904: it has been performed across the world, in many versions and adaptations, almost every year since.
Barrie's attachment to the boys extended to their mother Sylvia, the daughter of the the author George du Maurier, and the "most beautiful creature he had ever seen" (Birkin, J.M. Barrie and the Lost Boys). After 1897 Barrie was a frequent visitor to 31 Kensington Gardens, and from 1899 Barrie and his wife would accompany the Davies family on a number of formative holidays, a number of which are captured in the present album. These were initially at Rustington, and then subsequently at Black Lake Cottage in Surrey, Barrie's country retreat after April 1900, almost entirely surrounded by a pine forest and the lake itself. In August 1901, in a holiday later immortalised at that "strange and terrible summer", Barrie and the boys spent a series of magical weeks there, immersed in their own world of pirates, Indians and "wrecked islands": they enacted a series of "bloodthirsty sagas not merely described but enacted to the full in the 'haunted groves' of Black Lake forest..." (Birkin, op.cit.). These adventures, later incorporated into Peter Pan itself, were captured by a series of photographs by Barrie, some of which were reproduced in The Boy Castaways of Black Lake Island, which Barrie commissioned from Constable in an edition of two copies. One copy was for himself (now at the Beinecke) and one for the boys' father Arthur (who subsequently lost his copy in a railway carriage). Eight further original photographs taken by Barrie during this immortal summer, five of which are unrecorded in any other form, are present on pp.25-6 of the present album.
There was much tragedy in the lives of Barrie and all the boys in the following years and decades. The young boys' parents Arthur and Sylvia both died of cancer, in 1907 and 1910 respectively, with Barrie stepping in with financial assistance and then (in somewhat controversial circumstances) a formal adoption. George was killed in France in 1915, and Michael drowned (possibly committing suicide) at Sandford Pool, Oxford, when bathing with his friend Rupert Buxton in May 1921 (an event which made front-page news across the country, and plunged Barrie himself into almost inconsolable despair). Peter, who became a leading light in the publishing world, threw himself under a train at Sloane Square underground station in 1960. His wife Margaret, one of society's famed Ruthven twins from the 1920s, had been fascinated by the story of her husband's family and secretly assembled the present album in her declining years, while suffering from the ravages of Huntington's chorea (explaining the shaky handwriting).
After Sylvia's death in 1910 Barrie had produced a memorial album which he issued in an edition of 10 copies to members of the family. Some of the original prints used for this are in the present album (e.g. those of Peter, Jack, Sylvia and Mary Hodgson on the beach at Rustington in 1900, on pp.28); occasionally the 1910 prints (grey, rather than sepia) appear to have been cut out of Barrie's album and inserted here (e.g. George, Sylvia and Jack on p.18). Another similar memorial album, entitled "Sunny Memories", was also produced; this was inherited by Nico Llewelyn Davies and sold as part of the main archive in 2004 (see below). A few of the same images in the present album (e.g. one of the Black Lake photographs on p.26) also appear there.
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