J.M.Barrie was Rector of St Andrews from 1919 until 1922. He made his Rectorial speech on May 3rd 1922 on the theme of 'Courage'. It is a remarkable work and if you have not read it, you can do so HERE.
Over the next three years the J.M.Barrie Literary Society hopes to work with St Andrews University to develop a programme of events and connections with students,alumni and 'town and gown' and first out of the traps is our 'Rector's Challenge' essay writing 'competition.' (I use the word 'competition' lightly, as I find the whole nature of competitive writing somewhat distasteful!)
Basically, St Andrews students are being asked to respond to the following:
“I want you to take up this position: ‘Youth have for too long left exclusively in our hands the decisions in national matters that are more vital to them than us.’”
Discuss this statement from J.M.Barrie’s 1922 Rectorial Address ‘Courage’ and its relevance to the modern world.
The 'challenge' is to submit an essay (or creative response) of between 1000-3000 words. The deadline is January 6th 2020. Essays must be submitted to J.M.Barrie Lit Soc via email firstname.lastname@example.org in Word or PDF format.
Prize (if you must have a prize) is publication in the J.M.Barrie 160th anniversary Journal. (9th May 2020)
Anyone else who wishes to write a piece (on this or any other topic) in connection with J.M.Barrie 'Man and Boy' should submit their work - between 500 and 5000 words via email as soon as possible and before Feb 1st 2020 for consideration into Volume 3 of our Journal Anon.
JMB/St Andrews Timeline
2019 (November?) Centenary of J.M.Barrie elected Rector of St Andrews
2020 May 9th. J.M.Barrie’s 160th anniversary
2022 May 3rd Centenary of JMB’s Rectorial speech ‘Courage’ at the University.
To engage current students (alumni, town and gown) with Barrie and his connection to the University over the centenary period 2019-2022 through creativity and reflection.
Points of Connection
There are interesting links between current Rector and JMB:
The current Rector is doing what JMB suggested young people need to do!
‘Perhaps the seemly thing would be for us, their betters, to elect one of these young survivors of the carnage to be our Rector. He ought now to know a few things about war that are worth our hearing. If his theme were the Rector's favourite, diligence. I should be afraid of his advising a great many of us to be diligent in sitting still and doing no more harm.’
Deliver a series of WORKSHOPS over the next few years.
Develop Responses to the ‘Courage’ speech for a centenary publication in 2022
Cross discipline – creative responses literature, creative writing, drama, film, history, politics, psychology, philosophy.
Explore /perform Barrie’s dramas more extensively (Byre/Mermaids connection?)
Writing the ‘lost’ St Andrews play. The ‘real’ boy who never grew up.
Create a series of short films which deal with the aspects of the speech and its relevance to today for YouTube/Society website.
What does St Andrews mean to you?
If you could choose your hour from all the five hundred years of this seat of learning, wandering at your will from one age to another, how would you spend it?
The Courage Speech.
There are two famous quotes in this speech – but it’s rarely known they come from here:
God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December
A famous quote but few know where it comes from
it is not real work unless you would rather be doing something else
Another famous quote!
Responses to ‘Courage’
It’s a wide ranging speech.
Wars past and future
Exhorts youth to be active, challenge everything, beware of apathy and not to let those ordinary heroes who died, die in vain.
Honesty, humble beginnings and hard work are to be praised.
We are all failures in the end
Don’t live up to or get caught up in your own press.
What actually IS courage? How one faces the journey of one’s life. What one makes of it.
Other authors: Scott, Burns, Henley, Stevenson, and Captain Scott.
JMB’s philanthropy is why he’s best known for PP. JMB Lit Soc aims to go beyond PP.
JMB did indeed grow up -
In 1919 immediately post-war he was still grieving for George.
Echoes of the War plays published 1918.
In 2022 he was grieving for Michael.
It was a very bad time in his life.
Dr Andrew Nash, our President and leading academic Barrie expert, got his Doctorate from St Andrews. And I, more humble, got my degree here. I’m willing to bet that neither of us will ever be Rector, but that he is in the queue far ahead of me!
Lucie Sutherland’s pocket sized book on J.M Barrie’s Peter Pan explores the versatility of the play; offering insight into the historical, material and cultural contexts of the play. In 66 short pages it covers the period of the creation of the play as well as critiquing stage and screen adaptations which have come afterwards.
Sutherland notes that Peter Pan is ‘both thematically complex and commercially astute, with an enduring interest for audiences.’ In her work she addresses both of these aspects in as much detail as the short form allows.
Her work does not (often) seek to stray into the realms of meta-textual analysis, but rather to focus on the play’s construction, reconstruction and reception. As such it offers much information and food for thought.
The three main chapters consider the development of the play, the first performances and subsequent adaptations. All of these are interesting and engaging, covering new as well as familiar ground.
The Introduction suffers from one biographical inaccuracy, where Dumfries Academy is air-brushed out, to be replaced by Forfar Academy. It’s a small but significant slip (especially if you have either Forfar or Dumfries connections)because of the impact of Dumfries Theatre Royal on the schoolboy. To correct the factual error it should be noted that Barrie’s schooling is as follows: Glasgow Academy 1869-1871, Forfar Academy,1871-1873 and Dumfries Academy 1873-1878.
This aside, the book offers much to engage. It is particularly strong on the production process. For example, there is discussion of the pantomime aspect of the play. I had not considered this before, but it helped me draw a contextual connection with the short play Pantaloon which was performed for the first time in April 1905, shortly after the initial performances of Peter Pan.
Considerations of the origins and contextual significances of ‘Never Land’ might have been further developed had space allowed, though of course this is both a vast and mined field for appraisal.
The chapter on stage and screen adaptations offers review and overview, and the section ‘Appropriating Peter Pan’ tantalisingly moves towards meta-textual analysis through consideration of Finding Neverland and the 2003 film version of Peter Pan. Again, the deeper argument here is only constrained by space but is certainly interesting and thought provoking. And other works are given their relative due, providing breadth of comparision.
Peter Pan is a difficult play in so many ways. Consequently, it is a difficult play to write about and Lucie Sutherland is to be applauded for presenting this short work, which brings so much information into one place and which offers a good start point for deeper discussion and further scholarship.
J.M.Barrie's Peter Pan by Lucie Sutherland is published by Routledge in The Fourth Wall series.
The place for people to find out more and exchange their thoughts about Barrie's work