"By all the unwritten laws of savage warfare it is always the redskin who attacks"

Lines such as this have led some to label Barrie's story racist. But Peter Pan was written when social awareness of other cultures was not as developed as it is today. While this line is ignorant, it is also understandable. What could not be comprehended must be savage; this was uninformed racism, born of fear.

The Victorian Web examines racism in Victorian England, and its connection to the work of naturalists such as Charles Darwin:

"To denigrate or point up the bestial, brute, savage nature of an outside group is to point up our own advanced state and protect ourselves against inner fears or tensions. Racism and class prejudice, in other words, not only serve as agents of political power, but also serve as buffers between a community and a nature that seems to be getting too close to it for psychological comfort."

The Reconstructed Head of Java Man is Questionable
Public DomainThe Reconstructed Head of Java Man is Questionable - Credit: J. Arthur Thomson

Java Man discovered in 1891 at East Java, Indonesia, was seen by some scientists as the intermediate form between modern humans and the common ancestor we share with the other great apes. It has created years of controversy.