Captivated: J. M. Barrie, Daphne Du Maurier and the Dark Side of Neverland

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Vintage, 2009 - Imagination - 352 pages
Captivated is a true story of genius and possession. The background is the turn of the century, when a late-nineteenth-century world of mesmerists, psychics, trancers and table-turners gave way to a new twentieth-century age of psychology. The central character is the creator of Peter Pan, the famous novelist and playwright J. M. Barrie, a man tormented by inner demons since childhood.Barrie developed a consuming interest in the du Maurier family, beginning with George du Maurier, author of Trilby, a bestselling novel featuring his creation Svengali. In Trilby, George showed how it is possible, by means of hypnosis, for one person to gain control over the mind of another.Barrie made his move on the du Maurier family immediately after George died, assuming George's mantel and using his ideas to dominate both his daughter Sylvia and his son Gerald. Soon Barrie was 'Uncle Jim' to Sylvia's five sons and Gerald's three daughters, playing romping games of adventure and make-believe, and inviting the children into the transcendental world of Neverland. Four of the boys (the 'lost boys' of Peter Pan) and one of the girls (the imaginative tomboy Daphne) were captivated.This fascinating book delves deep, makes links and yields up secrets. It is a story of bliss corrupted by greed which masquerades as supernatural power. It tells how Barrie's victims - whom he would have not grow up - were lost to breakdown, suicide or an early death when they did. Daphne du Maurier, author of Rebecca, emerges as the lost boys' surprise companion and the enigmatic chronicler of their fate. Captivated is about writing and the world of the imagination- it is a singular example of art being used not only to imitate life, but darkly to transform it.Piers Dudgeon knew Daphne du Maurier and worked with her in the 1980s. When he discovered that she had put a moratorium on publication of her adolescent diaries until fifty years after her death, he was prompted to begin his researches into her background. What was the mystery that had Daphne been so keen to suppress?

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User Review  - cat-ballou - LibraryThing

Don't buy this new, is what I learned from this book. If you can't get it for free, or from a library, or used, at least wait until it's in paperback. Just think what you can do with that extra $10 ... Read full review

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User Review  - yooperprof - LibraryThing

Three stars for the portion of the book that deals the relationship between George du Maurier, J. M. Barrie, and sad and unfortunate Llewelyn Davies boys, who helped inspire "Peter Pan" but who became ... Read full review

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About the author (2009)

Piers Dudgeon is the author of many works of non-fiction. He worked for ten years as an editor in London before starting his own company producing books with authors as diverse as John Fowles, Catherine Cookson, Peter Ackroyd, Daphne du Maurier, Shirley Conran and Ted Hughes. Subsequently, he left London for Yorkshire where he wrote a number of biographies as well as illustrated books evocative of the spirit of place.

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