Monday, December 10, 2007

Audrey Burck


Eng 401

Fall 2007

The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.

J.M. Barrie

J.M. Barrie and the Lost Boys: a Postmodernist Biography

“All children, except one, grow up,” begins the timeless story of Peter Pan, the boy who refused to grow up. The whimsical play Peter Pan chronicle his adventures with the Darling children, beginning when he wakes them while searching for his rogue shadow. Out of this, the mischievous little boy has evolved from the star character of a beloved play into multiple bestselling novels, popular musical productions, and eventually the star of multiple move adaptations. While the character Peter Pan is widely known and loved, the creator behind the boy has become a mere shadow. Although he was author and playwright of dozens of plays and novels, Peter Pan has become the sole legacy of the Scottish writer, J.M. Barrie. Not only was Barrie one of the top playwrights of the early twentieth century, but he was also a popular lecturer, socialite, investor, and London character. There have been only a few biographies written about Barrie since his death in 1939, literary or otherwise, and the handful which have been written focus on unflattering aspects of Barrie’s largely tumultuous and tragic life. Recently, there has been a flurry of interest in the man behind Peter Pan, partially due to the centennial anniversary of the play in 2004, and the multiple movies which have been released, including a live-action adaptation of Peter Pan, and the Oscar-winning Finding Neverland. Andrew Birkin’s postmodernist approach to the genre of biography serves as a fascinating representation of Barrie as a man consumed with the goal of capturing the perfect childhood. First published in 1979 and reissued under Yale University Press in 2003, J.M. Barrie and the Lost Boys is an unconventional study of Barrie and his relationship with the Llewelyn Davies family. Birkin’s narrative is limited, and the majority of the book consists of extracts from primary sources, including letters, journal entries, photographs, and documents. By weaving together this treasure-trove of primary sources, Birkin brings Barrie’s story and his relationship with the Llewelyn Davies boys out of the shadows and onto the page in a fascinating account of their relationship and its product – Peter Pan.

The coming of Birkin’s biography was fortuitous, to say the least. In the mid 1970s, Birkin first became acquainted with James Matthew Barrie while working as a co-adaptor for an American version of Peter Pan, the Musical, starring Mia Farrow (Birkin, Introduction to the Yale Edition 1)[i]. His knowledge of Barrie and the story behind Peter Pan expanded quickly, and he was hired by the BBC to put together a short documentary piece on Barrie’s life. By 1977 the documentary had morphed into a four part miniseries, The Lost Boys, which depicted Barrie’s relationship with the Llewelyn Davies siblings and catapulted Birkin’s career as an award winning screenwriter. “This book was something of an afterthought,” writes Birkin in the forward of the 2003 Yale University Press edition of his biography, “written two years later in the far-too-brief span of the six months between completion and transmission [of The Lost Boys]” (Yale Edition Introduction 2). Birkin decided to take the extensive amount of information he had amassed while researching the documentary and turn it into a separate book which only took a few months to pen, but had unknowingly been in the works for nearly a decade. In the same way that the story of Peter Pan followed Barrie and the Llewelyn Davies boys for the remainder of their lives, Birkin was destined to become a keeper of the flame for both Barrie and his creation.

Before I even lifted the cover of J.M. Barrie and the Lost Boys, it was clear that I would not be dealing with a traditional biography. The familiar image of a young boy dressed in a primitive and tattered costume, stared defiantly up from the cover in the place where a traditional biography would have showcased a generic picture of its subject. Although the biography begins with the birth and childhood of Barrie, this portion of the writer’s life is narrated briefly in order to set up the main focus of the biography – Barrie’s relationship with the Llewelyn Davies siblings and their parents. In 1897, Barrie met George and Jack Llewelyn Davies (ages five and four) in Kensington Gardens (41). The two eldest sons of Sylvia Du Maurier and Arthur Llewelyn Davies were charming, and Barrie was immediately enraptured by their childhood games and imagination. He had found kindred spirits and a lifelong friendship began. Sylvia and Arthur were to have three more sons – Peter, Michael, and Nicholas – the latter of which became an indispensable source to Birkin’s research. Although Nicholas, or Nico, was not born until 1903 and therefore was absent for the first few years of Barrie’s relationship with the Llewelyn Davies family, he survived his older brothers and lived until 1980. Through Nico, Birkin gained an exceptional source to learn about the Llewelyn Davies family and J.M. Barrie and was able to create a unique and postmodern biography and lens through which to understand Barrie and his boys.

“Biographers are not in the business of protecting the cherished image of a cultural hero,” asserts Martin Stannard, “They are concerned with the truth” (Stannard 33). Unlike many contemporary biographers who aim to “sleuth out” revelations by which they can garner acclaim and fortune, Birkin’s motivation was merely to share the story he had unearthed, and to add to the portrait of Barrie.

Notwithstanding my own evident partiality for Barrie’s writing, I have endeavoured to leave this account tolerably free of opinion and judgement. It is not a scholarly work, though I have striven to ensure the accuracy of its content … Knowing that I was a scriptwriter, [Nico] no doubt suspected that I was after a ‘good story’ – which I was – and that truth might take second place to dramatic license – which it did, frequently, until he cajoled me back onto the right path; but never under pressure.

(Birkin, Introduction 1)

Nevertheless, Birkin’s portrayal of Barrie is overall positive and equally fascinating. The majority of the text is made up of excerpts from primary sources, including Barrie’s notebooks and letters sent to and from the Llewelyn Davies family. The engaging format he employs is similar to the piecemeal, puzzle-like qualities of Julian Barnes’ postmodern historical fiction, Flaubert’s Parrot (Barnes). Of the few biographies of J.M. Barrie which are still read today, most are geared toward adolescent audiences. Susan Bivin Aller’s biography published in 1994 is the singular Barrie biography published between the two printings of J.M. Barrie and the Lost Boys, and it is far from scholarly. Birkin’s narrative is mature, brief, and seemingly unbiased; used only to weave together the many different types of sources which create their own narrative and allow Barrie and the boys to tell their story in their own words.

Due to the fact that Barrie is considered by many modern-day critics and scholars to be merely an unimportant children’s author, only a small amount of research has been conducted concerning his life and works. Although his is known almost solely for Peter Pan, Barrie was a journalist and popular author in Edwardian England, as well as an innovative, successful playwright. Unfortunately, his previous successes are greatly overshadowed by the unprecedented success of Peter Pan, which after beginning in 1904 became so popular that it returned to London stages for over twenty consecutive years. Barrie continuously edited the play and changed lines, even adding a line explaining to his young fans that “’no one [is] able to fly until the fairy dust had been blown on him; so many children having gone home and tried it from their beds and needed surgical attention’” (Birkin 162). Birkin’s far-reaching research and his resulting documentary and biography contain numerous anecdotes concerning Barrie and the Llewelyn Davies boys, which range from humorous to horrifying. Much of these anecdotes, along with a myriad of documents, letters, and photographs, were shared with Birkin by Nicholas “Nico” Llewelyn Davies while he was researching Barrie for the BBC documentary. In fact, the discovery that Nico was still alive was serendipitous, and Birkin was unaware that such a phenomenal source even existed until his research assistant, Sharon Goode, traced the youngest Llewelyn Davies brother to Kent, England (Birkin, Introduction 3). Although Birkin was not chosen by Nico, the youngest Llewelyn Davies son was more than willing to work with him after being disappointed by the 1970 Barrie biography, Janet Dunbar’s J M Barrie: The Man Behind the Image. Nico expressed to Birkin his unhappiness with Dunbar for not understanding Barrie’s “macabre” sense of humor – a problem which many outsiders and critics seemed to have with Barrie (Llewelyn Davies). Due to Nico’s willingness to share stories and information, Birkin approached the worry that Nico’s influence affected the position of the biography. “I am reluctant to praise his contribution too fully, since an element of coercion may be suspected,” wrote Birkin (Introduction 1). Other important sources and institutions which Birkin lists in his Introduction include many Llewelyn Davies descendents, and the Walter Beinecke collection, “the largest Barrie collection in existence” (2), which include nearly fifty of Barrie’s private papers and notebooks. Another portion of research which required much time and dedication was sifting through the massive amounts of unpublished, unorganized primary sources. Since Birkin was one of very few to study Barrie, he spent many months studying and transcribing Barrie’s nearly illegible shorthand script and organizing his growing collection into a cohesive and helpful compilation of voices.

As previously mentioned, J.M. Barrie and the Lost Boys is not a typical biography, nor does it pretend to be one. Originally published for general audiences, the publishing company restricted Birkin’s page count, which resulted in over 100 pages being removed from the initial manuscript, mostly chronicling the story of Barrie and the Llewelyn Davies boys following the death of Michael, who was Barrie’s obvious favorite out of the five brothers. The unusual format Birkin utilizes to tell his story allows Barrie and all others involved to speak for themselves through pictures and writings and is neatly tied together with Birkin’s knowledgeable narrative. Rather than acting as a supplement to the text, the pictures number over three hundred and fifty, and offer another way of looking into Barrie’s world. Although Birkin possessed the power of choice and was able to filter the sources, thus weaving the story together in the ways he saw fit, this peek into the personal lives of the subjects also invites the reader to analyze the sources an evidence for themselves. “I have tried to limit my role to that of an editor, allowing [the sources] to unfold the narrative with a minimum of editorial interference,” explains Birkin in the introduction. “ There is, of course, no such ting as a totally objective documentary, for were I to withhold my opinion throughout , a degree of subjectivity would still be evidenced by what I had chosen to include or omit” (Birkin, Introduction 1). Birkin’s attempt at allowing the sources to tell the story was, in my opinion, successful. I often found myself spending more time staring into photographs and flipping back and forth through the pages, piecing the story together on my own. Birkin’s fundamentally unbiased narrative acted more as an informal tour guide, allowing the story to unfold on its own.

Within Birkin’s focus on the relationship between Barrie and the Llewelyn Davies boys is the creation of Peter Pan. The story of the little boy who refused to grow up and instead ran away to be with the fairies was just as magical to the five young brothers as it is to children today. Barrie pieced together the ideas and even the script itself from what the Llewelyn boys presented to him, and he achieved his goal of creating the ultimate emblem of childhood. In much the same way, Birkin’s biography reflects Barrie’s format for creating Peter Pan. The character Peter emulates the personalities and experiences of Barrie and the five boys. Barrie wrote in his foreword to the publication of his play, “’I made Peter by rubbing the five of you violently together, as savages with tow sticks to produce a flame. That is all Peter is – the spark I got from you’” (Birkin, Introduction to the Yale Edition 1). The same approach is used by Birkin, who pulls from a wide range of sources and finds the most important parts. These pieces are woven together into the story of how Peter Pan, Barrie, and the Llewelyn Davies boys all came to be. All of this was, of course, researched in-depth by both Birkin and Goode, and also submitted Nico for continuity and truth. In some aspects, reading Birkin’s retelling of how Peter Pan came to be is like reading a story book, complete with illustrations and more than enough room for imagination.

The story itself is fascinating. Barrie, childless and supposedly asexual husband to actress Mary Ansell, met and immediately became friends with the Llewelyn Davies boys by chance in 1897. In Barrie’s wide circle of affluent and talented London socialites, Barrie was already known as peculiar and gruff, but easily made friends with the young children of his acquaintances. He finally found a ready-made family into which he could become immersed, and within only a few months Barrie had become “Uncle Jim” to the Llewelyn Davies boys. Their mother, Sylvia, was amused and accepting of Barrie. Their father, Arthur, was skeptical and remained so until just before his unexpected death, brought on by cancer. Arthur and Barrie shared many conversations as Barrie tended the ailing man in 1907, and the two grew quite fond of one another (Birkin 137-153). Birkin’s account of Arthur’s death is based on not only Barrie’s journal, but also letters written by Arthur, Sylvia, and family friends. In areas where Birkin could have taken many liberties and tweaked the story to make Barrie appear heroic or manipulative, the sources again speak their own story – one of complexity and sadness. In other portions of the book, Birkin’s dramatic flair is evident. When describing Michael’s grief over his mother’s worsening health in 1910, Birkin describes the scene in detail. “He noticed Michael sitting at a small desk in the corner of [Sylvia’s] bedroom, doing his homework, the tears rolling down his cheeks and splashing onto the paper” (184). The source Birkin that attributes this to is a conversation held between Sylvia’s brother, Gerald Du Maurier, and his daughter. However, his descriptive narrative affectively pulls at the heart strings and demands emotion from the reader. Throughout the biography, I noticed similar passages. Although this could be deemed inappropriate, Birkin states in the opening lines of the book’s introduction:

This is not a biography of Barrie; nor is it a critical assessment of his works; nor a psychological dissection of his mind – ‘an attempt to dig up the dead and twist a finger in the sockets’, as he put it. It is, rather, a love story told through the words and images of the dramatis personae concerned.

(Birkin, Introduction 1)

Birkin’s retelling of the events between Barrie and the Llewelyn Davies boys has drawn criticism, which is to be expected when the subject is such an odd character and the story is so unlike what modern society is used to. “Obviously, there are shadows and not a few sinister implications lurking behind this curious story,” states John Tibbetts in a book review for the American Historical Review. “While … Birkin concludes that Barrie remained an innocent in all this (an opinion bolstered by the testimony of Nico …), the historical record – and the play – remain fraught with troubling, if never overtly stated, implications” (Tibbetts 2). While Tibbetts’ opinions are shared with multiple other skeptics, it is difficult to determine which side of the story, if either, is correct. The historical record Tibbetts alludes to is never clarified, giving his dissenting voice no secure foundation. Birkin’s claims that Barrie remained “an innocent” are founded in the assertion of Nico, who told Birkin’s research assistant in 1975, “I am entirely devoted to Barrie’s memory, by which I mean that you will hear little but praise from me” (Birkin, Introduction 3). Matter-of-factly, it is unknown whether Barrie harbored feelings for any of the Llewelyn Davies brothers which transgressed the father-and-son appearance. Although one brother in particular, Jack, appears less than fond in the sources which Birkin includes in the book, there is no evidence that Barrie mistreated any child. In essence, he is ‘innocent until proven guilty’. In fact, after the death of Sylvia Llewelyn Davies in 1910, Barrie became the adoptive father of the five Llewelyn Davies brothers. Since the original 1979 publication, the few Barrie biographies which have been published suggest varying levels of innocence, but there is no evidence of wrongdoing. Birkin’s focused and well documented depiction of Barrie is not only fascinating, but well balanced.

In the twenty years which elapsed between the 1979 edition and the Yale University Press edition in 2003, Birkin’s life changed drastically. He became a husband and also a father to his son, Anno, just a few weeks after the death of Nico Llewelyn Davies. Birkin continued as a screenwriter, never again foraying into the field of written biography. Birkin recounts in his introduction that as he watched Anno grow and mature, he found himself comparing his own son to Barrie’s adopted sons – specifically George, Michael, and Nico. Anno possessed personality traits similar to each of the brothers, including a magnetic charisma and talents as both a poet and musician. In 2001, Anno died in a tragic car accident at the age of 20. Birkin threw himself into the preservation of his son’s music and message. When asked to edit J.M. Barrie and the Lost Boys for the Yale University Press edition, Birkin drew eerie parallels between the life of Michael Llewelyn Davies[ii] and his own son in the additional foreword. Although the text of the biography did not change between the 1979 and 1986 editions, the final picture of a gravestone in Kensington Gardens was swapped out for a picture of a young Michael Llewelyn Davies. Although the book is peppered with photographs of Barrie and all five sons (as well as many other people), the coupling of the front cover’s image of Michael dressed as Peter Pan and the chilling story of Birkin’s own lost son give the 2003 edition of the biography an inescapable theme of untimely loss and tragedy which greatly affects how I perceived the message of the biography when contrasted with the 1979 edition. By ending the biography at the time of Michael’s death, as opposed to following Barrie through the remaining sixteen years of his life, Birkin’s biography remains centered and focused on the extraordinary relationship between Barrie and Michael, and also Barrie and the other Llewelyn Davies boys. Although the biography ends shortly after 1921, the tragic story of the Llewelyn Davies family does not. George, the eldest, died on the front lines in WWI. Peter, who became a publisher, committed a gruesome suicide in 1960. While Barrie died of natural causes, he eventually lost the ability to write. “Uncle Jim told me that I understood him better than anyone else alive, yet I realized I could never be a substitute for all that he had lost,” reminisced Nico in the epilogue. “When Michael died, the light of his life went out” (Birkin 298). Nico survived the rest by twenty years, and the story presented by Birkin exists solely because Nico chose to help others understand.

The approach taken in creating J.M. Barrie and the Lost Boys ensured that the research done by Birkin and his assistant, Sharon Goode, is still relevant and impeccable today. Their work with oral history, organization of the extensive collection of papers, and even the transcribing of Barrie’s journals, opened doors for future Barrie scholars. Out of personal interest, Birkin bought Nico’s collection of family papers and memorabilia before his death “for the princely sum of a few cases of malt whiskey” (Birkin, Introduction to the Yale Edition 4). Other interesting mementos and papers surfaced concerning Barrie, including the long-lost original notes for Peter Pan, which he discovered in the Beinecke Library in the 1980s (3). In a personal email with Birkin, he explained that following the 2003 edition of his biography, the bulk of his assortment of Barrie papers were sold to the Beinecke Library through Sotheby’s (Birkin, “Re:JMB”). At the same time, Birkin donated the copyright of his biography to the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children's Charity, mirroring Barrie’s donation of the copyrights to Peter Pan in 1929. Today, Birkin is not the only Barrie scholar. In 2006, Lisa Chaney published a scholarly, literary biography of the life of J.M. Barrie entitled Hide-and-Seek with Angels: a Life of J.M. Barrie. The relationship between Barrie and the Llewelyn Davies boys, Birkin’s focus, is largely glossed over in one chapter. Although I was only able to selectively read Chaney’s biography, the differences between these two biographies are illustrative of the many different ways in which a life can be portrayed.

J.M. Barrie and the Lost Boys is an exceptional example of what the genre of biography can put forth under the right circumstances. When not limited to crumbling papers and the scholarship of those who came first, works like Birkin’s interpretation of the relationship between Barrie and the Llewelyn Davies family can come to life. Birkin continues to be a ‘keeper of the flame’ for Barrie, Nico, and Anno. In 2004, he began the website He continuously uploads images, film and audio clips, documents, and even original scans of Barrie’s notebooks – all with the goal of keeping the memory of Barrie alive and to promote further scholarship. This online archive of all things Barrie is an example of the new directions in which the genre of biography is headed. Unlike other “fan sites”, is a trustworthy source for scholars, and also an entertaining website for those who are merely curious. Unlike books, the website continues to grow as Birkin uploads newly acquired bits of information. It is not completely unbiased, since in the end Birkin still has the ability to provide some materials and not others, but the ability for any interested person to see primary sources up-close allows for a multiple equally-important interpretations and understandings. The launch of the website was well-timed, and flourished amid the new interest in Peter Pan at his 100th birthday, and with the release of multiple Pan-themed movies and books[iii]. Although he currently has no plans to add to the scholarship himself, in my personal contact with him I have found Andrew Birkin is a gracious, friendly, and supportive Barrie enthusiast.

In some ways, it is better to have a fresh and unassuming biographer, such as Birkin. He easily could have fallen into the trap of painting Barrie as a laughable character much like the boy who wouldn’t grow up, mesmerized by childhood and an outsider in his own world. However, Birkin’s objective research and the format he chose to use as a hanger for his array of sources worked beautifully and showed Barrie as a misunderstood man, not a manipulative monster. Although Barrie is considered by many to be a lost boy, himself, Birkin allowed Barrie’s own voice and thoughts to permeate throughout the biography. By falling into the world of Barrie, Birkin came without presumptions and biases, which is clear in his charming and thought-provoking biography of a man few understood during his own lifetime, and few remember at all today. The shadow of a man that was James M. Barrie has become, to me, an individual apart from the sprite-like boy he created. Birkin’s biography supplies a better understanding of the man, his life, and the role that the Llewelyn Davies family played in creating one of the 20th century’s most famous icons – the boy who wouldn’t grow up.

[i] Unless otherwise noted, all citations of Birkin’s J.M. Barrie and the Lost Boys will be taken from the 2003 Yale University Press edition. Because this is a new edition of an older biography, there are three separate forewords before the actual biography begins. I refer to them by Birkin’s subtitles, in the order in which they appear in the book, as the Introduction to the Yale Edition, the Introduction, and the Prologue – each with their own, independent pagination.

[ii] Michael Llewelyn Davies, a very charismatic and intelligent young man, drowned at the age of 20 in 1921. Birkin suggests that Michael was Barrie’s favorite, and that the loss of his ‘son’ forever changed the lives of Barrie and the remaining brothers.

[iii] Recent additions to the Peter Pan legacy include but are not limited to the 2004 fictionalized adaptation of Barrie’s story (Finding Neverland), 2003 Universal Studios adaptation (Peter Pan), and the 2002 Disney cartoon sequel, (Return to Neverland). Geraldine McCaughrean and Scott M. Fischer’s successful 2006 sequel novel, Peter Pan in Scarlet, is also evidence of the surge in popularity.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Barrie Scraps

Back Flap of 1979 hardcover:

The Lost Boys. A selection of press reviews of Andrew Birkin's television play.

- "I doubt if biography has ever been better televised than in this sensitive and beautifully crafted masterpiece." The Daily Telegraph

- "It is only very rarely that a television drama comes along in which every constituent manages to provide a flawless contribution." The Financial Times

- "One of the finest pieces of television drama I have ever seen." The Listener

- "Andrew Birkin's convincing and compelling biographical trilogy is most beautifully and sensitively done." The Guardian

Inside front flap:
Summary of the biography "the pages that follow this meeting unfold the extraordinary story of Barrie's involvement with the Davies boys." Continues to back flap "the author of this book has included numerous quotations from Barrie's previously unpublished notebooks, which have been made available by Yale University. He has had the full co-operation of the Llewelyn Davies family, in particular the last surviving 'Lost Boy', Nico, and has been allowed to draw extensively on a fascinating family memoir written at a later date by Peter Davies, which the latter called 'The Morgue'. One of the many most attractive features of teh book are the illustrations, many of them taken by Barrie himself, which record the day to day activities of a beautiful family and are highly evocative of a period - the Edwardian - which now seems so remote." continued. "Andrew Birkin, helped in his research by Sharon Goode, conceived and wrote the script for the BBC production The Lost Boys, a trilogy of plays which received wide critical acclaim when first shown in 1978, and which was the BBC's drama entry for the 1979 Monte Carlo Festival." (end)

1979 Edition: First published in Great Britain 1979 by Constable and Company Ltd 10 Orange Street London WCaH 7EG. Copyright 1979 by AB and Laurentic Film Productions Ltd.
Front cover is very attractive. Nostalgic picture of a boy dressed in what is supposed to be recognized as a Peter Pan costume, his legs spread wide apart and an impish expression on his face. The title and author's byline are written in gold and cream, very eye-catching. It feels like you're holding something of substance, with thick paper and faces peering back at you from every page. Tells a story not only with words, but with pictures, which set it apart from the traditional biography. An unexpected treasure-trove of documents and pictures, many of which were taken by JMB as a hobby. Each turn of the page reveals a picture (or many) which make AB's narrative come alive. Not so much a companion piece to the documentary, but a stand-alone work.
Inside the front and back covers, extensive family trees of the subjects being studied (Llewelyn Davies and Du Maurier) are shown.
Title page is coupled with the "to die..." illustration. Foreboding? Becomes very meaningful later in the book. The dedication, "To my Mother", seems rather innocent.
Two quotes. An A.E. Housman poem
Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?
That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.
"You’re old, but you're not grown up. You're one of us."
Alexander Puttnam, aged 11

What we gather about Birkin, before reading: closely tied with tv and screenwriting. Author picture is very youthful, ordinary, walking down abandoned railroad tracks. Artisticy emo? Downward directed eyes shaded by longer shaggy hair. Recent pictures of AB are still brooding, with hair that is still rebelliously long, but thinning.
Introduction begins with the "May God blast..." quote from one of Barrie's late journals.

2003 Edition:
Although the cover art has been slightly modified. Added the subtitle: The real story behind Peter Pan.
Back flap press reviews:
"Positively the most captivating book I have read in years . . . an absolutely gripping love story which is both moving and harrowing" Margaret Forster, Evening Standard
"A psychological thriller . . . one of the year's most complex and absorbing biographies" Gerald Clarke, Time
"My most unforgettable read of the year" Ronald Blythe, The Guardian
"A truly chilling story, wonderfully told" Sheridan Morley, The Times
"Unquestionably the best book on the subject, and unlikely to ever be surpassed" Sir Rupert Hart-Davis
"A terrible and fascinating story" Eve Auchincloss, Washington Post
"This stunningly constructed biography . . . is a story of obsession and the search for pure childhood; touching, moving charming, a revelation" Caroline Thompson, Los Angeles Times
"Originally published in 1979, this enchanting and richly illustrated account is reissued with a new preface and additional illustrations on the release of Neverland, a film based on Barrie's relationship with the Davies family, and the centenary of Peter Pan in 2004." Birkin's list of achievements has greatly expanded since the first edition. Listed on the back cover are his multiple awards from his film career, and mentions his three sons.
The inclusion of the sprawling family tree from the first edition has been overlooked, in favor of over a dozen additional glowing reviews from publications such as the New York Times, Daily Telegraph, and Boston Globe. "The most candid and perceptive biography to have been written on Barrie," quips the Oxford Companion to Children's Literature. "A fascinating story beautifully constructed and told with grace, great sympathy, and skill..." Gillian Reynolds, Daily Telegraph.
Opposite the old dedication is the acknowledgement of the Special Trustees of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity, to whom AB donated the copyright of the book in commemoration of JMB. Not showy.
Introduction to the Yale Edition includes recent revelations, and fills in some of the gaps between the 1979 edition and the 2003 edition. Recounts AB's beginnings as a JMB scholar. The biography's theme of direct and lengthy quotes from primary sources continues in the new introduction. Very upfront about the massive amounts of information left out, due to the page limitations (SHOW HIS AUDIENCE), and the numerous documents and such which have surfaced since. Tantalizing.

Snippets from Class Notes:

  • Any sense of a source which was less-than-nice? Revenge? Unfair portrayl?
  • Who has the most power in this? Sexton’s power was Linda.
  • Uses many sources, many perceptions, to create a more balanced portrait. Yet, it still depends on the biographer. Duty to the community to tell the story – good or bad – to enhance the understanding of the subject.
  • No biography is ever the complete story, but each adds to the photo album of the subject’s life. Footprints.
  • Is one interpretation more “right” than the others?
  • Not only can a life be interpreted in numerous ways and viewed through many lenses, but also, each source (letters, choices, events, photos, etc) can be understude and used by the biographer in countless ways. Malleable. Even how the biographer writes it (word choice) can decide the impression the reader is left with.
  • Currently a trend to “out” the subject and find a revolutionary angle from which to dissect them. More of a sleuth than a scholar.
  • “’The corpse,’ Waugh suggested, ‘has become the marionette. With bells on its fingers and wires on its toes it is jigged about to a “period dance” of our own piping’”. Necrophiliac Art, page 32. Martin Stannard.
  • Biographer is also revealing themselves in their writing, and offering their own work to the critics (same source). Discusses privacy and who owns a life. Matters if they seeked out the job, or if it was offered to them.
  • Postmodernism and Flaubert’s Parrot. Notes, Oct. 2nd.
  • For the paper, look for holes and other things which seem to be left out. Look for disconnects between the larger story and anecdotes. Why include the ones he chooses? Any trends?
  • Birkin used mostly children’s memories, and friends and family. Critics are rare. Innocent views of “the innocent”. Barrie is treated as a sort of fairy tale creature, himself, and not as a serious playwright.
  • Look at Birkin’s motivation and connection to the story and relationships. At this point, he was not yet a father and didn’t have a strong affinity to the story. Sort of fell into it. Separated enough to remain largely unbiased. Biographer’s point of view shapes the reader’s understanding of the subject. Especially with the inclusion of anecdotes.
  • What is the impact of the selection and presentation of the material?
  • Only took Joslin a year to write it, but it took her 30 years to digest it and form her own opinions. Obvious assertions and little “spin” on things like Addams’ relationship.
  • Rampersad: “a good biography leaves its reader generally convinced about the authenticity of the reconstruction of the life and of the claims made for the life; but it must also leave the reader convinced that the life was worth reconstructing, so that the reconstruction, that is, the biography, was worth reading. A biography must be entertaining and instructive.” (2)
  • Keeper of the flame.

Monday, October 29, 2007


So, I've been using this blog as a handy storage space for random bits that I don't want to lose. NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, is only a few days away. I want to participate. I think, because I don't want to lug my laptop everywhere, I'm going to use this blog as my bounce-pad.

Yes, I just created bounce-pad.

I'm going to bounce my writing in here. It's my interim storage space for when I'm not on my desktop, where I can save it. Also, it might be good to have it all in cyber space, just in case my PC dies.

So yeah.
Let's just hope I can catch up on homework enough to allow myself to crank out a novel.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

JMB Quote

From "Courage", his address to St. Andrews in 1922.

"My own theme [for an address] is Courage, as you should use it in the great fight that seems to me to be coming between youth and their betters; by youth, meaning, of course, you, and by your betters, us. I want you to take up this position: That youth have for too long left exclusively in our hands the decisions in national matters that are more vital to them than to us. Things about the next war, and why the last one ever had a beginning." page 5.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Library Project, for safe keeping.

Peter Pan, the boy who wouldn’t grow up, has become an icon of children’s literature and movies, both in America and around the world. One would think that with a creation so popular, the man behind the boy would be a popular subject for biographies, documentaries, and other idolizing practices. The author J. M. Barrie received a brief bout of popularity in 2004, when his life was interpreted into the somewhat fictionalized blockbuster movie, Finding Neverland. However, it has been thirty years since the tale of Barrie’s life and works has been put into print.[1] Of course, the daunting task of writing out a person’s life, especially one as extraordinary as Barrie’s, can be off-putting. Still, this is no reason for Barrie’s life to be forgotten, or merely remembered for creating one little boy in an imaginary world. To write J. M. Barrie’s biography would be an awfully big adventure, and one that I would be more than willing to accept. However, instead of signing my life away, I intend to lay out the necessary steps for success of any scholar and biographer of Barrie.

When researching the life of a person, it usually helps to know at least a basic summary of their life and works. In the case of Sir James Matthew Barrie, briefness is not possible. Even still, I’ll try squeeze in as much of the vital information as possible. Although he is best (and often singularly) known for his children’s play, Peter Pan, Barrie was many things in the literary world. He began as a young and untrained Scottish playwright, and then fell into the journalism business. From there, Barrie built upon his reputation as both journalist and playwright, and also wrote the biography of his mother. Although overall successful, much of Barrie’s life was overcast with multiple misfortunes, including many untimely deaths. During his seemingly unhappy marriage to the actress Mary Ansell, Barrie befriended London socialite, Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, and her five sons. From his time spent with the family, Barrie created the character Peter Pan. After their mother’s death, Barrie became the adoptive father of the five Llewelyn Davies boys. The story of these five boys is as much a part of the story of J. M. Barrie as his writings and opinions. Peter Llewelyn Davies, who never overcame the embarrassment of being linked to the fictional Peter Pan, went on to become a successful publisher. The youngest of the boys, Nicholas (‘Nico’) Llewelyn Davies, passed away in 1980. Fortunately, Andrew Birkin was able to spend countless hours with Nico, and collect all sorts of information about Barrie and the Llewelyn Davies family which would have been otherwise lost. Although he is usually remembered only for Peter Pan, Birkin and others[2] have helped to illustrate Barrie as so much more than a children’s author.

Unlike the vast and scattered collections of many writers, the papers and trappings of J. M. Barrie are relatively consolidated, but largely untapped. The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, located on the campus of the University of Yale, is home to Barrie’s 46 surviving notebooks and a vast amount of other papers and items, collected and donated by Walter Beinecke Jr. in the mid 1960s. The internet inventory of the J. M. Barrie collection at the Beinecke Library was last updated in 1997, and also lists items such as speeches written by Barrie, correspondence, art, photographs, manuscripts, first-editions, and even Barrie’s will. This adds up to 65 boxes and 75 cases and volumes worth of Barrie ephemera. Birkin, the resident (and seemingly, only) expert on Barrie spent an entire summer working through this collection, and by best estimates, made it only about half-way through all of the writings.

By undertaking the huge task of compiling Barrie’s life into one book, Birkin unearthed many new sources that acted as windows into the past. His research included not only the collection at the Beinecke Library, but also private papers from the Llewelyn Davies family’s nanny, family correspondence and documents, pictures, and even Peter Llewelyn Davies’ attempts at a family biography. The most important source that Birkin had was his extensive interviews and correspondence with Nicholas Llewelyn Davies, the youngest of the five boys. Although oral histories are largely regarded as unverifiable and possibly detrimental for serious scholars, Nico was an invaluable source for Birkin and for all future Barrie scholars. Birkin bought all of Nico’s personal family papers, The Nico Collection, ”for no real reason other than emotional attachment” in 1979.[3] In the 2003 edition of his book Birkin mentions that he has come across multiple new sources for future Barrie followers to use, such as hundreds of letters, photographs, documents, and even other notebooks. After touring many countries as a display, Birkin sold the majority of his personal collections concerning Barrie to the Beinecke Library in 2003. However, before doing so, Birkin uploaded all of his notes, notebook translations, documents, ephemera, and even audio recordings onto a website (owned in part by the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children[4]) for any interested person to peruse.

Although the Beinecke Library is in possession of Birkin’s collection, their online inventory of J. M. Barrie papers, which is open to the public for research, has not been updated in a decade. Birkin alluded to the idea that the library would keep their newer acquisitions “under lock and key” for a while, and the preliminary survey of the collection instructs all those interested to contact the curator for information about items not catalogued. In the 1970s, at the request of Birkin, all of the available notebooks belonging to Barrie were copied onto microfilm. Sets of these can be purchased directly from Beinecke, to avoid months of working with the originals. Between these microfilms and Birkin’s website (, I could make a lot of progress without leaving my apartment, let alone Michigan.

One of the most difficult aspects of sifting through the Barrie papers is Barrie himself. His handwriting is notoriously cramped and scribbled, to the point of it being illegible. Birkin spent an entire summer translating the 46 notebooks into his own form of notes, and guesses that he was not able to transcribe a third of the 46 journals. Not only would the journals need to be deciphered, but Barrie left behind a legacy of plays, articles, letters, photographs (many taken by him, as an amateur hobby), and other trinkets. Even with a post modernistic approach to studying Barrie’s life that opts for content over chronology, I have a feeling that no one biographer could create a solid and truthful image of Barrie in words.[5] The man spent his life trying to capture time and childhood, and trying to explain his own feelings on paper. To assume that a definitive biography could be written about the man who was so adamantly against easy explanations is exactly what Barrie feared.

The copyright circumstances surrounding Barrie’s works are confusing, and to be quite honest, I don’t know how I would go about gaining permission to publish experts. Birkin has been forthright about not caring who quotes him, as long as they give whatever credit due. However, much of the papers are not Birkin’s to give. Barrie has no descendents which would deter a biographer. Rather, a board of special trustees was created for the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, which holds all rights to the Peter Pan idea, story, image, and everything else associated with the boy who wouldn’t grow up (often referred to as the Peter Pan Gift). Also, since Birkin generously donated the copyright of his own book to this same charity, quoting Birkin would have to be consented by this board of trustees. However, that is merely Birkin’s work and Barrie’s Peter Pan. According to Birkin’s website, the copyright to the rest of Barrie’s works was temporarily extended until 2007.[6] Therefore, I’m not sure if Barrie’s works have become part of the public domain and are available to all, or if they’ll continue to be under a confusing copyright law. Since the Beinecke Library is now in possession of the Barrie collection donated in the 1960s, and the not-yet-catalogued collection bought from Birkin a few years ago, permission must also be gained by Beinecke to research and reproduce anything under their control. Beyond Beinecke and Barrie’s actual works, not many other sources exist. Although permissions might be difficult to obtain, at least I would only be dealing with a few different organizations, and not an entire web of distant relatives and spiteful scholars.

Birkin’s dedication and perseverance laid much of the ground work for future writers and scholars of Barrie, but left an unknown amount of primary source material waiting to be explored. Because the subject of Barrie is unexplainably unpopular for biographers (but does well in book sales and with critics), it’s difficult to say how much there is left to be discovered. To write an insightful and fresh biography of Barrie, I estimate that research alone would take months. My plan of attack, or plan of organizing the material and notes, follows.

Notes and Research:

Thanks to technology, researching and keeping track of notes has become much more manageable. I think the best course of action, for me, would be to compile my notes in Word, or another program. That way, they’re easily searchable. I’d also keep a somewhat up-to-date version on paper to protect against losing everything if there’s a computer problem, or if I need a hard copy. I would obtain a copy of Barrie’s journals on microfilm, and use Oakland’s Kresge Library to scan them onto the computer. Also, since there’s such a massive amount of source material on Birkin’s website, computers and internet would be vital for me. I’m paranoid about losing files and work, so I would most likely create a website, or at least a huge blog, where I could upload notes and other files, like a back-up place to save everything on the off chance that my own computer explodes.

The Archives and Travel:

The fact that Barrie’s papers are almost exclusively collected at the Beinecke Library seems like a huge perk and a win-win situation. Although I’d like to stretch out and enjoy my time in the vault there, I have a feeling that even if I rushed through it all, I would still be at Yale for months on end. But, again through the magic of technology, I would definitely pursue a good relationship with the curator! I would, of course, visit the collection multiple times to sift through everything and take notes. Birkin was able to charm Beinecke into putting Barrie’s notebooks onto microfilm in the 1970s. I think it could be possible for them to take digital photos of sources I may need (or maybe I’m just too optimistic). Either way, I would plan to spend at least a month’s time at Beinecke, probably in the form of numerous weekends, or perhaps a week here or there. The first step would be to update the rough inventory of the collection from 1997, and then determine what was imperative to my research, what might be important, and what I would have to do without.

Overall Estimation:

I’ve always been a fan of J. M. Barrie. It seems as if the more that I learn about him, the more interested and attached I become. Most likely, I would meander through this research project (if there isn’t a deadline to meet), and enjoy it immensely. In Birkin’s case, he was working with a deadline and felt no strong connection to Barrie until the end of his research, documentary, and book. The trouble with pinning down a time is that I couldn’t possibly know and understand Barrie’s life by the time I die, let alone write it all out on paper. Although I would want to focus both on his literary works and his personal life, I would have to set parameters for my writing. The trouble is, I’m not sure what those parameters would be, yet.

[1] Andrew Birkin, author of J. M. Barrie and the Lost Boys, published his story of Barrie’s life in 1979. A revised edition was published by Yale in 2003.

[2] Another biography of Barrie is apparently in the works, or just recently released. Lisa Chaney’s Hide-and-Seek with Angels: A Life of J. M. Barrie (St. Martin’s Press) is said to shed a much less favorable light on Barrie.

[3] I’m going to include the emails I’ve received from Mr. Birkin, because I’m just too boastful. I’ll staple them to the back if you’d like to see them. They’re not that interesting, but I wanted to include them, all the same.

[4] In 1929, Barrie donated all of his rights in Peter Pan to the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, in London.

[5] Andrew Birkin took a rather unconventional approach when writing J. M. Barrie and the Lost Boys, sandwiching his narrative between excerpts from Barrie’s letters, notebooks, etc. Also, in his Introduction he asserts that he is not writing a biography of Barrie, but rather “’An attempt to dig up the dead and twist a finger in their sockets’ [as Barrie put it] … a love story told through the words and images of the dramatis personae concerned.”

[6] This was decided in 1987, according to the Berne Convention’s 50-years-from-author’s-death ruling (Barrie having died in 1937).

Thursday, October 4, 2007

J.M. Barrie

Research information on J.M. Barrie.
All Peter Pan materials copyright Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children's Charity.

A plethora of sources, all depending on how vast the study is. Can span from research on one work, his life time, or research which envelops not only Barrie, but all of the other lives he influenced.

Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, housed at Yale and thus far, still unpublished. Said to be utterly illegible at times. Birkin estimates that he translated about 2/3 of Barrie's 46 notebooks. Beyond this, they are important and untapped sources. Beinecke also houses a vast amount of Barrie papers and memorbelia which are not even catalogued, studied, or published at this time. The majority of the materials were collected by Walter Beinecke Jr., and donated to the library in the 1960s. The last update to the catalogue of the collection was in 1997, and according to the website, the entire collection is open for research.
According to Birkin, copies of the original 1975 microfilms of Barrie's notebooks can be purchased directly from the Beinecke library.

"Mary Hodgson Collection" - donated by her niece to Birkin, this collection added to his research for the biography in 1977. Personally owned by Birkin (?)

"Nico Collection" - thousands of pieces, the majority being notes and letters, bought by Andrew Birkin from Nico Llewelyn-Davies before his death in 1980. As the youngest and last surviving adopted son of J.M. Barrie, Nico was a wealth of information to Birkin, and made an unequaled contribution to the memory and study of J. M. Barrie, the writer and the man. Personally owned by Birkin.

"Peter Davies Collection" - a wealth of the publisher's own papers and memorbelia about his own life, his family, and J. M. Barrie. Donated in 1992, by his son, Rivvy. Personally owned by Birkin (?)

"There’s a good deal of further “primary source material” in the form of extensive correspondence and hours of taped interviews between 1975-1980 with the (then) surviving dramatis personae of the saga: Gerrie Llewelyn Davies, Eiluned and Medina Lewis, Angela and Daphne du Maurier, Lord Boothby, Elisabeth Bergner and many others, including ten hours of audio tape with Nico himself." - Birkin's website, personally owned (?) - Birkin's personal site, with an archive of the majority of J.M. Barrie regalia from his research, and the years between then and now. A full website has been available since 2004, and Birkin continues to add to it as more becomes available.

Interesting copyright circumstances. Taken from Birkin's site - "The late Joan Ling used to run the Barrie Estate, on behalf of Barrie’s literary heirs, to works other than those embraced by the Peter Pan Gift. She - and the Asquith family - generously allowed me to quote from Barrie’s other works (including letters and notebooks) without restriction. Joan died many years ago, and the Estate was officially wound up in 1987 when Barrie’s works went out of copyright, as per the Berne Convention’s 50-years-from-author’s-death ruling (Barrie having died in 1937). But when the Convention’s ruling was extended to 70 years, Barrie (and a great many other authors/artists/composers) suddenly found their posthumous shelf-lives extended by another 20 years - in Barrie’s case, until 2007."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Book List

I've been meaning to compile a to-read list for ages. However, every time I try to do so, it turns out to be a disorganized nightmare. I'm thinking that if I do it in the blog, I'll have the ability to access it more often. Now, let's hope I can re-remember what I want/need to read! In fact, I think I might turn this blog into a book blog! Woo hoo! I'd love it, but I feel sorry for anyone who tries to read it...

Edit: If the title is in green, that means I own it. Hooray!

Acheve, Chinua
Things Fall Apart

Adams, Douglas
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Adams, Richard
Watership Down

Addams, Jane
Twenty Years at Hull House

Alcott, Louisa May
Little Women (again)
Little Men

Alexander, Robert

The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar

Anita, Tarr C.
J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan In and Out of Time: A Children's Classic at 100

Atwood, Margaret

The Handmaid's Tale

Austen, Jane
Mansfield Park
Pride and Prejudice
Sense and Sensibility

Baldwin, James
Go Tell it on the Mountain

Bawdin, Nina
Carrie's War

Beagle, Peter S.
The Last Unicorn

Bennett, Alan
The Complete Talking Heads
The History Boys
The Uncommon Reader

Berendt, John
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Blume, Judy
Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret

Bradbury, Ray
Farenheit 451

Braddon, M. E.
Lady Audley's Secret

Bradley, James
Flags of Our Fathers

Bronte, Charlotte
Jane Erye

Browne, Hester
The Little Lady Agency

Burgess, Anthony
A Clockwork Orange

Caldwell, Laura
The Year of Living Famously

Calloway, Colin
Scratch of a Pen: 1763 and the Transformation of North America

Capote, Truman
In Cold Blood

Chaucer, Geoffrey
The Canterbury Tales

Chevalier, Tracy
Girl with a Pearl Earring

Chopin, Kate
The Awakening (again)

Clancy, Tom

The Hunt for Red October

Coelho, Paulo
The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream

Colt, George Howe
The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home

Conrad, Joseph
Heart of Darkness (again)

Davies, Peter Ho
The Welsh Girl

Dew, Robb Forman
The Evidence Against Her

Dickens, Charles

A Christmas Story
A Tale of Two Cities
Bleak House
Great Expectations (again)
Oliver Twist

Doctorow, E. L.
Ragtime (again)

Eliot, George
Silas Marner

Ellison, Ralph
Invisible Man

Emerson, Ralph Waldo
Self-Reliance (again)

Eugenides, Jeffrey
Middlesex: A Novel

Faulkner, William

As I Lay Dying
The Sound and the Fury

Fischer, David Hackett
Paul Revere's Ride (again)
Washington's Crossing

Fitch, Janet
White Oleander (again)

Fitzgerald, F. Scott

The Great Gatsby (again)

Foer, Jonathan Safran
Everything is Illuminated

Follett, Ken
The Pillars of the Earth

Forester, E. M.

A Room With a View
Howards End

Fresan, Rodrigo
Kensington Gardens

Gibbons, Kaye
Ellen Foster

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins

The Yellow Wallpaper

Golden, Arthur
Memoirs of a Geisha

Goldman, William
The Princess Bride

Golding, William

Lord of the Flies (again)

Gregory, Philippa
The Constant Princess
The Other Boleyn Girl
The Queen's Fool

Gruen, Susan
Water for Elephants (again)

Hansberry, Lorraine
A Raisin in the Sun

Hardy, Thomas
Jude the Obscure
Tess of D'Ubervilles

Hawthorne, Nathaniel
The Scarlet Letter

Heller, Joseph

Hemingway, Ernest
A Farewell to Arms
For Whom the Bell Tolls
The Nick Adams Stories
The Sun Also Rises

Herbert, Frank

Hosseini, Khaled
A Thousand Splendid Suns
The Kite Runner

Huxley, Aldous
Brave New World

Irving, John
A Prayer for Owne Meany
The World According to Garp

Isenberg, Nancy

Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr

James, Henry
The Aspern Papers (again)
The Bostonians
The Portrait of a Lady

Joyce, James
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
The Dubliners

Kerouac, Jack
On the Road

Kesey, Ken
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Kidd, Sue Monk
The Mermaid Chair
The Secret Life of Bees

Kingsolver, Barbara
Prodigal Summer

Kinsella, Sophie
Remember Me?

Kipling, Rudyard


Kostova, Elizabeth
The Historian

L'Engle, Madeleine
A Wrinkle in Time

Lalwani, Nikita

Lamb, Wally
She's Come Undone

Lamott, Anne
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Lee, Harper

To Kill a Mockingbird (again)

London, Jack
The Call of the Wild

Kingsolver, Barbara
The Poisonwood Bible

Maguire, Gregory

Mirror Mirror
Son of a Witch
Wicked (again)

Mansfield, Katherine
The Collected Stories (again)

McCourt, Frank

Angela's Ashes
Teacher Man: A Memoir

McCullough, David
John Adams

McEwan, Ian
On Chesil Beach

Middlebrook, Diane

Anne Sexton: A Biography

Miller, Arthur
Death of a Salesman (again)

Milton, John
Paradise Lost

Mintz, Steven
Huck's Raft: A History of American Childhood

Mitchell, Margaret
Gone With the Wind

Montgomery, L. M.
Anne of Green Gables series (again)
Kilmeny of the Orchard

Morrison, Toni


Nabokov, Vladimir

Nemirovsky, Irene
Suite Francaise

Niffenegger, Audrey
The Time Traveler's Wife

Notaro, Laurie
Autobiography of a Fat Bride: True Tales of a Pretend Adulthood
We Thought You Would Be Prettier: True Tales of the Dorkiest Girl Alive

O'Brien, Tim

The Things They Carried (again)

Orwell, George
Animal Farm

Packer, Ann
The Dive From Clausen's Pier

Pearl, Matthew
The Dante Club

Plath, Sylvia
The Bell Jar

Rand, Ayn

Atlas Shrugged
The Fountainhead

Rivenbark, Celia
Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like a Skank: And Other Words of Delicate Southern Wisdom

Rotundo, E. Anthony
American Manhood

Russo, Richard
Bridge of Sighs
Empire Falls

Saint-Exupéry, Antoine de
The Little Prince

Salinger, J. D.
Catcher in the Rye (again)
Franny and Zooey

Schocket, Eric
Vanishing Moments: Class and American Literature

Scott, Sir Walter

Sebold, Alice

The Lovely Bones

Sedaris, David
Me Talk Pretty One Day (again)

Seton, Anya

Green Darkness

Sinclair, Upton
The Jungle

Steinbeck, John
East of Eden
The Grapes of Wrath (again)

Tolkien, J. R. R.
Lord of the Rings

Tolstoy, Leo
Anna Karenina

Updike, John
Rabbit, Run

Vivante, Arturo
Truelove Knot: A Novel of World War II

Walker, Alice
The Color Purple

Warren, Robert Penn
All the King's Men

Waugh, Evelyn
A Handful of Dust
Brideshead Revisited

Welsh, Irvine

Wharton, Edith

The Age of Innocense
The House of Mirth

Wick, Lori
The Princess

Whiteley, Opal
Opal: The Journal of an Understanding Heart

Whitman, Walt

Leaves of Grass (again)

Wiesel, Elie
Night (again)

Wilde, Oscar
Complete Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde
The Picture of Dorian Gray

Wilder, Thorton
Our Town (again)

Winsor, Kathleen
Forever Amber

Woolf, Virginia
Mrs. Dalloway
To the Lighthouse