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1957WhenWendyGrewUp

Front cover of a 1957 edition of When Wendy Grew Up.

When Wendy Grew Up - An Afterthought is a play in one act by the Scottish writer J.M. Barrie. It is a sequel to Barrie's 1904 play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up. When Wendy Grew Up was first performed at the Duke of York's Theatre in London's West End on February 22, 1908, immediately after a performance of Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up.

In Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up, the titular boy flies in through the window of the bedroom that the girl Wendy Darling shares with her younger brothers John and Michael one evening. After having blown fairy dust on them, Peter Pan teaches the three Darling children to fly. Since the children's parents are not at home that evening and Nana, the Newfoundland dog who acts as their nanny, has been banished to the yard, there is nobody to prevent the children from flying away with Peter Pan to his home on the distant island of Never Never Land.[1] In Never Never Land, Wendy acts as mother to Peter Pan, the other boys who live with him (unclaimed children who fell out of their baby carriages and who are known as the Lost Boys) and her own brothers John and Michael. Never Never Land is also home to fairies, beautiful but dangerous mermaids, a tribe of Native Americans, wild animals and a pirate crew led by Peter Pan's sworn enemy the fearsome Captain Hook. In spite of its dangers, Wendy, John and Michael live happily in Never Never Land for some time. When Peter Pan leads them to believe that their parents might have given them up for dead, the Darling children decide to return home at once. Wendy having told them that her parents would adopt them, the Lost Boys decide to leave Never Never Land with her. Peter Pan chooses to stay behind when the other children leave. The other boys and Wendy are then captured by the pirates. Having been alerted to what has happened by the fairy Tinker Bell, Peter Pan sets off to rescue the other children. Hook is defeated and all the pirates are killed. All the children then fly back to the Darlings' London home. The Lost Boys are adopted. Mrs. Darling offers to adopt Peter Pan too. He refuses and says that he is returning to Never Never Land so that he can stay a little boy forever. Wendy suddenly wants to go back to Never Never Land too. Her mother will not let her go back there permanently but agrees to let Wendy go back there once a year to help Peter Pan with spring cleaning.

The final scene of Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up takes place one year later when Wendy goes back to Never Never Land to help Peter with spring cleaning. Peter is unchanged but Wendy is already showing signs of growing up. She is aware of this and does not expect to continue going back to Never Never Land much longer.

In When Wendy Grew Up - An Afterthought, it is revealed that Wendy only returned to Never Never Land to help Peter Pan with spring cleaning one more time. After that, she does not see the boy again for many years. Wendy grows up, marries and has a daughter of her own named Jane. Jane loves to hear stories about Peter Pan and about her mother's time in Never Never Land. After Jane goes to sleep one evening, Peter Pan flies into her darkened bedroom where the adult Wendy is sitting. Peter Pan finds it very hard to accept that Wendy has grown up and that the child sleeping in the room is her daughter. When Jane wakes up, however, the two children soon become good friends.

J.M. Barrie adapted When Wendy Grew Up - An Afterthought into the final chapter of his novel Peter and Wendy, which was first published in 1911.

Plot

The action takes place several years after the events of Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up. John is now a man with a beard. Michael is an engine driver. The Lost Boy known as Slightly has married into the aristocracy and is now a lord. Wendy has married another one of the Lost Boys[2] and they have a daughter named Jane. Wendy, her husband and her daughter live in the same house in which Wendy lived when she was a girl. The bedroom that used to belong to Wendy and her brothers is now used by Jane and the very elderly dog Nana.

Before going to sleep, Jane wants her mother to tell her the story of Peter Pan, even though she already knows the story off by heart.

Wendy says that, after she returned from Never Never Land, she was sent to school. The Lost Boys were sent to school also, where they fit in surprisingly well. They continued to fly for some time after they moved to England. Wendy also often found herself flying without really intending to at that time.

When the first spring cleaning time came, Peter Pan took Wendy back to Never Never Land with him. He was completely unchanged. Wendy, however, had grown two inches taller, although Peter did not notice that. Peter had forgotten a lot of the things that had happened when Wendy was in Never Never Land before. He had forgotten all about the fairy Tinker Bell, who was probably dead by that time. Wendy noticed that Peter Pan had no concept of time and, "thought all the past was just yesterday."

The following year, Peter Pan did not come to take Wendy back to Never Never Land for spring cleaning. The year after that, however, he did. He was not aware that he had missed a year and Wendy never pointed that out to him. Peter Pan did not come for Wendy the following year and she did not see him again.

Peter and Wendy pg 243

Peter Pan, Jane and the adult Wendy. Illustration by F.D. Bedford from a 1911 edition of the novel Peter and Wendy.

Jane falls asleep. Wendy sits by the fire in the darkened bedroom. Peter Pan then flies in through the bedroom window. He is still a boy and still looks exactly the same as when Wendy knew him many years earlier. He greets Wendy in a friendly manner and kisses her. Wendy asks him how long it has been since he last saw her. He answers, "It was yesterday." Peter Pan sees the sleeping Jane and asks, "Is Michael asleep?" Wendy reluctantly admits to Peter Pan that the sleeping child is not Michael but a girl. Peter assumes that the child is Wendy's sister. This leads him to think that Wendy's mother will be more willing to let Wendy go to Never Never Land for spring cleaning because another girl will remain at home.

Wendy tries to explain the situation, beginning by saying, "when Captain Hook carried us away." Peter Pan asks who Captain Hook is. The shocked Wendy asks, "Do you mean to say you've even forgotten Captain Hook and how you killed him and saved all our lives?" Peter Pan replies that he forgets about his enemies after he kills them. He admits to having forgotten a lot of things, apart from mother Wendy.

Peter Pan tells Wendy that it is time to go to Never Never Land. He blows fairy dust on her so that she can fly. Wendy says that she can no longer fly because she is no longer young and innocent. Peter Pan at first protests that she is. He begins to understand the situation, however, and tells Wendy not to turn up the lights. Wendy tells Peter that she is now grown up and married and that the sleeping girl is her daughter. Peter Pan throws himself to the floor and cries. Not knowing what to do, Wendy runs out of the room.

Jane wakes up. Peter Pan introduces himself to her. Jane says that she has been expecting him and agrees to be his mother. By the time Wendy returns to the room, Peter Pan has taught Jane how to fly. Wendy agrees to let Jane go to Never Never Land for a week to help Peter with spring cleaning. Wendy asks if she can go too. Peter reminds her that she cannot fly. Wendy gets Jane to put on her slippers and a robe before the girl flies away with Peter.

Nana wakes up and appears to be anxious. Wendy tells her not to be. She says that she always hoped that, if Peter Pan ever came back, she would have a daughter who could go to Never Never Land with him. Wendy adds that she will allow Jane to go to Never Never Land with Peter each year for spring cleaning, although she knows that the boy will forget to come some years. She goes on to say that she hopes that Jane will have a daughter when she grows up and that girls will continue visiting Peter Pan in Never Never Land forever.

Footnotes

  1. The earliest drafts of Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up refer to "Peter's Never Never Never Land". This was changed to "Never Never Land" when the play was first performed in 1904 and is also how the island's name is written in the published script of When Wendy Grew Up - An Afterthought. When the script of Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up was published in 1928, the island's name was shortened to "Never Land". it is written as "Neverland" in the 1911 novel Peter and Wendy.
  2. There are six Lost Boys in Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up and Peter and Wendy. They are Slightly, Nibs, Curly, Tootles and two unnamed Twins. According to the earliest drafts of When Wendy Grew Up, Wendy married Tootles. This line was cut before the play was performed and Wendy's husband is unidentified in the play's published script.

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