In Search of Peter Pan -- You reach the little town of Kirriemuir by heading north of Glamis Castle for 6.5km (4 miles) or by traveling 26km (16 miles) north of Dundee via A929 and A928. Thousands of visitors per year come here to pay their respects to Sir James M. Barrie (1860-1937), author of Peter Pan.
The little town of red-sandstone houses and narrow crooked streets, located in the heart of Scotland's raspberry country, saw the birth of Barrie in 1860. His father was employed as a hand-loom weaver of linen. Barrie's birthplace still stands at 9 Brechin Rd. (tel. 01575/572-646; www.nts.org.uk), now a property of the National Trust for Scotland. The small house contains some of the writer's manuscripts and mementos. From March to June and September to October, the house is open Saturday to Wednesday noon to 5pm and Sunday 1 to 5pm; July to August, Monday to Saturday 11am to 5pm and Sunday 1 to 5pm. Admission is £5.50 for adults; £4 for seniors, students, and children 5 to 15; £15 for a family ticket.
Barrie first became known for his sometimes-cynical tales of Kirriemuir, disguised as Thrums, in such works as Auld Licht Idylls (1888) and A Window in Thrums (1889). He then turned to the theater and in time became known for bringing supernatural and sentimental ideas to the stage. It's said that talking to a group of children while walking his dog gave him the idea for the stories about Peter Pan, which were first presented to the public in 1904. It wasn't until 1957 that When Wendy Grew Up: An Afterthought was published.
He went on to write more dramas, including Alice Sit-by-the-Fire (1905), What Every Woman Knows (1908), The Will (1913), and Mary Rose (1920), the latter a very popular play in its day. But, besides Barrie scholars, who remembers these works now? On the other hand, Peter Pan has become a legendary figure, known by almost every child in the Western world through films, plays, musicals, and the original book.
Although he spent most of his working life in London, Barrie is buried in Kirriemuir Cemetery. To reach Barrie's grave, turn left off Brechin Road and follow the cemetery road upward. The path is clearly marked, taking you to the grave pavilion. A camera obscura in the Barrie Pavilion on Kirriemuir Hill gives views over Strathmore to Dundee and north to the Highlands.
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