How Peter Pan Became the Hero Who Looks After Sick Children
Updated: Aug 30
In 1929 J.M. Barrie, who wrote Peter Pan, gave the copyright and all royalties for the book and play to the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London, so that Peter Pan could always look after children who were unwell. Anyone who used the characters or story in any kind of production or written piece had to get permission to do so and part of the royalties would go to the hospital.
In 1988, Prime Minister Lord Callaghan petitioned Parliament to amend their copyright act to make the Peter Pan copyright perpetual; you see, all UK copyrights expire 70 years after the death of the creator, and the rights to Peter Pan were about to go into the Public Domain. Royalties from Peter Pan, and consequently funding to the hospital, would cease. Parliament passed it unanimously, and Peter Pan became the copyright that wouldn't grow up, at least in the UK. The hospital kept the benefits, which contribute to a major part of their funding.
In the states, the copyright for the book has expired. Royalties are not due to the hospital for books or films that use Peter Pan and the other characters in the story; UK law does not extend beyond the borders of that country. Luckily, most people outside the UK, (but not all - *absolutely disgusted look in this direction*), are happy to contribute a donation to the hospital in lieu of the missed royalties, including Disney, Johnny Depp, and every Hollywood adaptation of the story and characters to date.
I was inspired to write The Neverland Girl partly from Ruth B's song "Lost Boy", and the intention behind J.M. Barrie's wonderful, selfless gift to the children's hospital. This story is about a little girl who's quite ill, and who lives in an “unnamed” children's hospital in London. In keeping true to Mr. Barrie, it's only good form that a portion of the royalties from every sale of The Neverland Girl go to the Great Ormond Street Hospital in the UK, and to St. Jude's Children's Hospital in the states, so that Peter Pan will continue to take care of little ones who are very sick, as Mr. Barrie intended. For all who buy the book, thank you for being a part of that! Together we are making a real difference.
It's important that we carry on the good that people do for others, especially when it brings magic to life and helps use that magic to make little ones well again.