Readersforum's Blog

August 9, 2011

10 Real-Life Places That Inspired Literary Classics

JM Barrie’s Neverland (Moat Brae, in Dumfries, Scotland)

By Emily Temple

Earlier this week, we read about plans to turn Moat Brae, the Georgian townhouse in Scotland that inspired JM Barrie’s Peter Pan into a center for children’s literature, which we think sounds like a wonderful idea. It also doesn’t hurt that Absolutely Fabulous actress Joanna Lumley is the primary advocate and fundraiser behind the project. But more importantly, the project got us thinking about all the real-life places that have inspired some of our favorite works of literature. We’re not talking big cities like New York and LA and their numerous pleasures, which figure in thousands of books, but houses and moors, caves and farmlands hidden away in authors’ hometowns or childhood vacation spots. Of course, some of the mythology of inspiration is always guesswork, but we can’t deny that we feel a little literary tingle when we look at these places. Click through to see our list of ten real life places that inspired literary classics, and let us know any we’ve missed in the comments!

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August 3, 2011

Peter Pan’s Neverland could become forever-land

Joanna Lumley launching a £4m restoration fund for Moat Brae, in Dumfries, where JM Barrie conceived the idea for Peter Pan's Neverland. Photograph: Rob McDougall

Joanna Lumley is raising £4m to turn Moat Brae in Dumfries – birthplace of JM Barrie’s tale – into a children’s literature centre.

By Severin Carrell

For the teenager James Matthew Barrie, the sloping, terraced garden overlooking a gentle river was an enchanted land where he and his friends became pirates, clambered over walls, built hideouts and scaled trees in the sunshine.

But the back garden of Moat Brae, a late Georgian villa in the rural town of Dumfries, became more than a playground for the aspiring novelist and playwright. Thirty years later, it inspired Neverland, the magical kingdom where Peter Pan and Tinkerbell flew into battle against Captain Hook, an adventure that captured the imaginations of millions of real-life children.

Now, nearly 140 years after JM Barrie played there as a boy, the mansion and gardens are to be transformed into a national centre for children’s literature, after the derelict and decaying building and its garden were saved from demolition by a local trust.

Supported by the actor Joanna Lumley, who has a holiday home nearby, the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust has launched a global appeal for £4m to save the house from ruin and return it and the garden to their original splendour.

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