The Little White Bird Background

The Little White Bird Background

The Little White Bird is a novel by British author J.M. Barrie which spans fantasy and whimsy to social commentary with dark, aggressive undertones. The book reached prominence and longevity primarily due to the introduction of a character called Peter Pan, whose chapters are written in a much more gentle tone than the rest of the book. Four years later, in 1906, these chapters were published as a book in their own right as "Peter Pan In Kensington Gardens". The Peter Pan story began as a single chapter but grew to become a "book within a book" of more than one hundred pages during the four years that Barrie worked on the book.

The Little White Bird is a series of short episodes that included both fanciful tales that were set in Kensington Gardens and accounts of the narrator's everyday activities. The story is set in several different locations within London and the Peter Pan segment is set in London's beautiful Kensington Gardens, one of the famous royal parks. The chapters include detailed descriptions of recognizable features of the Gardens and Barrie gives them fantasy names that the characters use after "Lock Out Time", his term for the time at the end of the day when the park gates are closed to the public and the fairies and other magical inhabitants of the park are able to move about more freely than they can during the daylight hours when they must hide from ordinary people.

The third section of the book, following the Kensington Gardens chapters, are once again set in the general London area but their exact location is not pinpointed. There are some brief returns to Kensington Gardens that are not part of the Peter Pan writings. Chapter Twenty-Four includes a spectacular diversion to Patagonia before Barrie brings the story back to England via a voyage over the ocean to the"white cliffs of Albion".

The Little White Bird is best known for its introduction of Peter Pan but it has been eclipsed by the stage play Peter Pan, or Rhe Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up. Although sometimes it is described as a prelude to the play the two stories are in fact incompatible with each other, specifically in the Peter Pan character who is said to be only seven days old, but in the later story is portrayed as being of school age.

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