Bloomsbury, London
Russell Square in Bloomsbury, London
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeRussell Square in Bloomsbury, London - Credit: C. Ford

 Peter Pan opens in Bloomsbury, London. Developed by the Russell family in the 17th and 18th centuries, Bloomsbury was considered a fashionable residential area. It is famous for the British Museum, and is the location of Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, the beneficiary of Peter Pan's royalties following the donation of the copyright in 1929 by J. M. Barrie.

 In 1086, Bloomsbury was described in the Domesday Book as having vineyards and "woods for 100 pigs." In 1201, William de Blemond acquired the land and the Bloomsbury name developed from Blemondisberi, or Blemond manor.

The Plaque at the Entrance to Coram Fields
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeThe Plaque at the Entrance to Coram Fields - Credit: Oosoom at Wikimedia Commons

The distinctive Bloomsbury Group made its home here. With members including Virginia Woolf and E. M. Forster, this group of artistic English intellectuals was politically active and Bohemian, meeting from the early 1900s until the 1930s.

 

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One of Bloomsbury's lesser known parks is Coram's Fields. Dedicated to children in 1936, it has a duck pond, sand pits, a pet corner and playground. It boasts one unique quality – an adult unsupervised by a child is not permitted to enter, a fact that would have tickled Peter Pan immensely.

The Neverland
Peter Pan in the Neverland
Public DomainPeter Pan in the Neverland - Credit: Francis Donkin Bedford

The majority of Peter Pan takes place in the magical Neverland, but its location is as mysterious as the island itself. Peter does reveal that, from the Darling's nursery in Bloomsbury, it is, "second to the right and straight on till morning." This turns out to be neither helpful nor accurate.  Although the children flew mainly straight, it wasn't until the passage of many moons that a "million gold arrows" pointed out the shores of the Neverland. Its true location is found in the mind of children, and a child's mind has no boundaries at all.

Listening to the people of Suffolk, one could believe the Neverland might be in Thorpeness.  

The island is called the Neverland in the book, but was introduced as the Never Never Land in the original play.

 

The Duke of Yorks Theatre
The Duke of Yorks Theatre
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeThe Duke of Yorks Theatre - Credit: Colin Smith @ Wikimedia Commons

The Duke of Yorks Theatre, originally the Trafalgar Square Theatre, opened on September 10, 1892. Two years later it became known as the Trafalgar Theatre, and in 1895 became the Duke of York's to honour the future King George V. It was the first theatre to stage Peter Pan or, as it was called then, The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up.

Aside from being the launching pad for Barrie's most famous work, it has another claim to fame: the production of David Belasco's Madame Butterfly was seen by Puccini in this theater, and one of the world's most famous operas was born. Another actor to grace its stage, was Sir Basil Rathbone, who will never be forgotten as the quintessential Sherlock Holmes.

 

The Mermaids' Lagoon

"If you shut your eyes and are a lucky one," says Barrie, "you may see at times a shapeless pool of lovely pale colours suspended in the darkness; then if you squeeze your eyes tighter, the pool begins to take shape, and the colours become so vivid that with another squeeze they must go on fire." This is the Mermaids' Lagoon.

  

Might Mermaid Lagoon Have Looked Like This?
Public DomainMight Mermaid Lagoon Have Looked Like This? - Credit: Auburtin