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Literature / Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens

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Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens is a collection of chapters first published in The Little White Bird that concerns the character Peter Pan. In this story, it's revealed that all children begin life as birds until Solomon Caw sends them out to expecting mothers, where they become human children. Peter, an infant of seven days old, is still young enough that he's still half-bird and therefore has complete faith in his ability to fly. He escapes his home by flying out through the open window and arrives in Kensington Gardens. Upon realizing that he really is no longer a bird, he loses the ability to fly because once you doubt your ability to fly, you can no longer do it.

This book is a sort of predecessor to Peter Pan, though there are some differences. The first, obviously, is that Peter lives in Kensington Gardens, not Never Land. Secondly, he's perpetually a baby, not a child as most of us know him to be.

Tropes found in Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.

  • Accidental Marriage: It's explained that fairies get married simply by leaping into each other's arms (although a clergyman must be present). Later in the story, a character named Mamie Mannering leaps into Peter's arms, and the narrator points out that this "was a sort of fairy wedding".
  • Buried Alive: When mentioning that Peter occasionally finds and buries the bodies of children who died in the gardens, the narrator admits that he's not 100% confident that Peter always makes sure they're actually dead before burying them.
  • Cargo Ship: Peter asks Maimie to marry him because her furry coat reminds him of a bird's nest. invoked
  • Downer Ending: The book ends on the note that Peter occasionally finds the bodies of children who were stuck in the gardens after Lock-out Time and thus died of exposure. He buries them in the gardens... but what makes it even more of a downer is, according to the narrator, Peter apparently never makes sure if the children he finds are actually dead before he buries them. So, if they aren't dead when he finds them, they definitely are when he buries them.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: This is Peter's first appearance in fiction, and it's probably not the Peter Pan you're familiar with. There's no Captain Hook, no Lost Boys, no Darling children, no Never Land... Instead, Peter is a perpetual baby who lives in Kensington Gardens, rides a goat and a sailboat, and falls in love with a human girl. The folkloric elements of The Fair Folk play a much more important role throughout.
  • The Fair Folk: The fairies. They're tiny, but really shouldn't be messed with.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Peter is described as half-human and half-bird, or a "Betwixt-and-Between."
  • Horse of a Different Color: The imaginary-goat-turned-real-by-the-fairies.
  • Liminal Being:
    "You will be a Betwixt-and-Between," Solomon said
  • Masquerade Enforcer: Peter Pan has one in the form of Pilkington, who appears in The Little White Bird, Or Adventures In Kensington Gardens. He is a schoolmaster with a cane who makes Children go to school. He is described as a shade with a large cane which is described as a hook. The fear of Pilkington is what forces fairies to hide by day. Many consider Pilkington is a precursor of the more famous Captain Hook.
  • Puff of Logic: As soon as you doubt your ability to fly, you won't be able to do it anymore. Oh snap.
  • Raised by Wolves: Or birds, in this case.
  • Swans A-Swimming: There are swans in the garden.