Loch Awe in spring - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography






Sunday, 19 February 2012

Liebster Award and Peter Pan


At Novel Points of View we are delighted to receive a Liebster Award from writer and blogger extraordinaire Rosemary Gemmell

Apparently the award recipient should give five facts about herself but as we are five writers we’re giving one fact each!

Gwen Kirkwood: My favourite colour is royal blue. My birthstone is a sapphire and I have sapphires in my engagement ring.

Gill Stewart: The country I’d most like to live in is Scotland but the country I’d most like to visit is South Africa.

Jenny Harper: I have a guilty pleasure: Häagen-Dazs Chocolate and Pralines ice cream - I can eat a whole tub!

Mary Smith: I was – many years ago – school high jump champion for four years in a row.

Linda Mitchelmore: I have a weakness for Prosecco.... I was introduced to it on a writing holiday in Italy by a young American girl called April. I never drink it without thinking of her.

We’d like to pass the Liebster Award to ChocLit Authors  and to Heroine Addicts, both excellent blogs of interest to writers and readers

So now you know a little bit more about us, on with the blog, coming this time from Mary Smith

Birthplace of Peter Pan

I have just attended an evening of jazz played by Gentle Jazz, a popular band based in Dumfries & Galloway, along with vocalist Terri Farley. The event was to raise funds for the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust which aims to create Scotland’s first Centre for Children’s Literature in Moat Brae House, Dumfries, south west Scotland.

It was the garden of Moat Brae House which gave J M Barrie the inspiration for Peter Pan. As a child Barrie was a pupil at Dumfries Academy and he played in the garden of nearby Moat Brae. The house was designed in 1823 by the architect Walter Newall who was born in New Abbey near Dumfries and who was also responsible for designing Glenlair House near Corsock, home of the scientist James Clerk Maxwell.

Moat Brae was built for a Robert Threshie of Barnbarroch. The house changed hands several times and in 1863 was sold to Henry Gordon, a solicitor and bank agent in Dumfries. His sons, Henry and Stewart befriended J M Barrie was a frequent visitor to their home. The house, however splendid the interior with its square central hall, circular first floor gallery and a domed glass roof, was of less interest to the young Barrie than the garden where the three boys played. It was this garden which was to inspire Barrie in later years to write the story of Peter Pan and Neverland. When he visited Dumfries Academy in 1924 Barrie told his audience: “When the shades of night began to fall, certain young mathematicians shed their triangles, crept up walls and down trees, and became pirates in a sort of odyssey that long afterwards was to become the play Peter Pan. For our escapades in a certain Dumfries Garden, which is an enchanted land to me, were certainly the genesis of that nefarious work.”

The house was turned into a nursing home in 1914 and when it closed in 1997 the building was left locked and empty, at the mercy of vandals who broke windows allowing pigeons to move in and continue the destruction. In 2009 it was decided to demolish the house – and it was at this point a group of local people took action and, with actress Joanna Lumley at their head, launched a campaign to save Moat Brae.

They succeeded in purchasing the house and garden – literally only three days before the bulldozers moved in. In a way, that was perhaps the easiest part for now the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust faces the monumental task of raising between £3-4 million pounds to restore the building – and establish a national centre which will celebrate children’s literature through events, visiting exhibitions, workshops by authors, illustrators and story tellers. The riverside garden, where J M Barrie played, will be developed into an educational play area for children based on the Peter Pan story and where every plant tells a story.

There have already been many fundraising events such as the evening of gentle jazz I enjoyed and lots more events are being planned by all kinds of groups and people enthusiastic to see the birthplace of Peter Pan restored and in use.

The Trust has a website at www.peterpanmoatbrae.org where there is lots more information about this exciting project. Many thanks to Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust and Graeme Robertson for use of the pictures.

19 comments:

  1. Mary, what a wonderful plan to turn this house where Peter Pan was born into a center for children's literature programs. I wish you all the best.

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    1. Glad you like the idea, Mary, but I can't claim any credit for it. Apart from attending a fundraising event and blogging about the project I've not done anything!

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  2. I think it is great that Moatbrae House has been preserved, but like Mary, I'm afrad I have not done anything to help as yet. I believe J M Barrie and Robert Burns were both frequent visitors to our little theatre on Shakespeare Street (the oldest in Scotland) so let us hope it can also be preserved for posterity.

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    1. I knew Burns had attended the theatre but didn't know J M Barrie had, though I suppose it would be a logical assumption to make.
      I was intrigued to read the Peter Pan play was written for children but the original book was intended for older readers - until Disney got hold of it.

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  3. That's a fantastic project, Mary - what a wonderful place to have a Centre for Children's Literature. Hope they get plenty of support.

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  4. They've raised an enormous amount already towards the first phase of the project and it would be so good for Dumfries to have something like this at its heart.

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  5. Meant to say I enjoyed those little snippets about each of you!

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  6. Good luck to everyone associated with this project. It's more important than ever to preserve our heritage.

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    1. Thanks, Myra. I think what's so great about this project is that it isn't only about preserving the house but actually making sure it can be used by the community and by writers.

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  7. I didn't know you could jump, Mary! And I didn't know much about the Moat Brae project until I read this. Fascinating.

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  8. Er, it was a long time ago Gill! I don't think I would be very impressive if I tried it now - more likely to have to crawl under than jump over.

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  9. It sounds as if the project is off to a good start, Mary - I hope it continues to attract support. £3-4 million doesn't sound too dauting when you consider the benefits.

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    1. I think they've raised about three quarters of a million already. And to add a PS the jazz evening raised about £1000.

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  10. That's very interesting, Mary - I hope the trust achieves its aims!

    And thank you all for passing on the Liebster Award, both to the Heroine Addicts blog and the Choc Lit Authors' Corner, both of which I belong to! It's much appreciated!

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    1. Thanks, Christina. Linda Mitchelmore who blogs with us is also with the Choc Lit blog and her debut novel is coming out this month.
      I'm sure the Trust will achieve its aim, not only because they've got Joanna Lumley as patron but it seems to have captured the imagination of people here.

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  11. I'm just in love with the building! My huge regret is that at my all girls grammar school, architecture was never spoken of as a career....well, I'm going back some way when lots of careers were male preserves.....!
    I wish you well with this project.....but the house has given me a good idea for a story....:)

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    1. It is a glorious building, isn't it? Have you looked on the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust website, Linda? There are quite a few pictures there. Even without the J M Barrie connection I think it's a building worth preserving and using.
      Look forward to reading your story inspired by the house.

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  12. It is a great building! Have you seen this Peter Pan related web page? http://www.spinelessclassics.net/peter-pan-whole-story-poster-104.htm

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    1. Thanks for your comment and link.

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