The Dark History of Captain Hook

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While he might be a staple of every modern iteration, Captain Hook wasn’t around for Peter Pan’s humble beginnings. Created by Scottish novelist JM Barrie, Peter first appeared in the 1902 novel “The Little White Bird”, as a story in the book about a baby who runs away from home to live with the fairies. According to a 2015 article by The week, readers’ fondness for the character encouraged Barrie to develop a play, “Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up”, later adapted into the novel “Peter and Wendy”. Although similar to modern versions, early depictions of Peter featured the boy as a macabre being who dragged children out of their beds.

According to the biography JM Barrie and the Lost Boys by Andrew Birkin Captain Hook was not included in the first draft of the play, but was only added later as a distraction so the stagehands could change the setting. Additionally, the author intended to have the role of the pirate captain played by the same actress as the mother figure, Mrs. Darling. The dual casting of the mother as the antagonist would have been in line with the play’s original title, “The Boy Who Hated Mothers”. It was only at the insistence of original Mr. Darling actor Gerald du Maurier that the role went to the father figure, cementing a tradition that actors would play both roles for the majority of iterations of the room.

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