From Amy Billone's Introduction toPeter Pan Unlike characters in most other children's literature, Peter Pan has achieved mythological status. Even though many people have not read Barrie's novel or play, Peter Pan is now as well known as Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty. Why isPeter Pansuch a memorable drama? The story may be so compelling partly because of its attentiveness to reversibility. Childhood and adulthood, birth and death, boys and girls, dreams and waking life all persistently change places in the story. But they change places in such a way that they reinforce rather than dismantle the oppositions that confuse and distress us. Children do become adults; birth leads to death; boys and girls cannot effortlessly change roles;dreams remain distinct from waking life. Time moves ferociously forward. Even thoughPeter Panis the story of a boy who never grows older, the narrative proves that everyone else must age. The first sentence of the novel tells us so: "All children, except one, grow up." While the legend tempts us with achingly desirable unions, it is about the difficulty (if not the impossibility) of fusing disparate worlds: life and death, dreams and reality, masculinity and femininity,childhood and adulthood. Through lively comedy,Peter Pan brilliantly masks the underlying sadness that threatens to pull the story apart. The heartbreaking undercurrents inPeter Panbecome evident when we consider the mirroring between fantasy and reality that took place in J. M. Barrie's life. Like Peter Pan, Barrie remained a ghostly outsider. He wanted children of his own but instead found himself staring in at the Llewelyn Davies family, with whom he shared no blood relationship. Peter Pan convinces the Darling children to fly away with him in an attempt to take them from their parents and make them his; Barrie inadvertently achieved the same result with the Davies boys. In 1907 Arthur Llewelyn Davies, their father, died of cancer of the jaw. In 1909 James and Mary Barrie were divorced because of her affair with Gilbert Cannan. And in 1910 Sylvia Llewelyn Davies died of cancer. Barrie was left with five boysage seven to seventeenall of whom were now orphans left to his care. What was J. M. Barrie's relationship with the Davies brothers? There are certainly passages in some of Barrie's novels that read, a century after their publication, as suspiciously attentive to the attractiveness of little boys. Barrie's involvement with the Davies boys was unusually closemore intense, perhaps, than typical relationships between parents and their natural offspring. However, Nicholas Llewelyn Davies swore to Barrie's biographer Andrew Birkin that Barrie never showed one hint of homosexuality or pedophilia toward him or his brothers. Critics have for the most part concluded that Barrie was entirely sexless. Nevertheless, he loved the Davies brothers obsessively. We might even go so far as to say that he was in love with at least two of them, George and Michael. As Barrie himself wrote inMargaret Ogilvy, "The fierce joy of loving too much, it is a terrible thing" (p. 206). Years later, Barrie wrote to George Llewelyn Davies, then twenty-one years old and fighting in World War I: I do seem to be sadder today than ever, and more and more wishBedford, F. D. is the author of 'Peter Pan ', published 2005 under ISBN 9781593082130 and ISBN 1593082134.