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Peter Pan in Scarlet

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Peter Pan in Scarlet, UK edition
Peter Pan in Scarlet, UK edition
Peter Pan in Scarlet, US edition
Peter Pan in Scarlet, US edition

Peter Pan in Scarlet is a novel by Geraldine McCaughrean. It is an official sequel to J. M. Barrie's Peter and Wendy, authorised by Great Ormond Street Hospital, who were given the rights to the character and original story by the author. McCaughrean was selected following a competition launched in 2004, in which novelists were invited to submit a sample chapter and plot outline. The book continues the story of the Lost Boys, the Darling family, and Peter Pan, in 1926 during the reign of George V, following World War I.

The book was released internationally on October 5, 2006. In the U.K., the first printing consisted of a standard run of approximately 30,000 copies, and a limited edition of 1,500 copies with a specially printed bookplate, individually numbered, and signed by the author. Five copies of a special edition, leather bound in a slipcase were also printed, with copies going to the author, Great Ormond Sreet Hospital, Oxford University Press, Queen Elizabeth, and the last auctioned at the book launch. The book was released in Britain with a cover illustration and interior silhouettes by David Wyatt, and in the United States with a cover illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi and interior silhouette illustrations by Scott M. Fischer, published by Margaret K. McElderry. The book was also released in audio format in the UK and US.

An edition abridged for younger readers by McCaughrean, and fully illustrated in colour by David Wyatt, was published in the UK in October 2008 by Oxford University Press.


Plot summary

The novel sees the return of Wendy Darling, her brother John, and adopted brothers Nibs, Slightly, Tootles, the Twins and Curly, who were once Lost Boys. At the end of Peter and Wendy, the Darling children had brought the Lost Boys home to London where their parents adopted them.

The novel opens with John Darling and his wife denying the vivid, realistic dreams he keeps having about Neverland, which bring back different relics of his time there as a child: a cutlass, a pistol, et cetera. We discover that each of the former Lost Boys and Wendy have also been having similar dreams, and Wendy arrives at the conclusion that bombs from the Great War have punched holes through their world into Neverland and dreams and ideas are filtering through. Wendy tells the former Lost Boys, now known as Old Boys, that they must find a way of returning to Neverland to help Peter Pan return both worlds to normalcy.

Peter has been dreaming of the Darlings as well, and to his consternation they were much too big. When they and their "new" dog finally return to Neverland, claiming to be dreaming of him too, he is indifferent. He does not even notice that Nibs is absent, nor that Michael is dead. He is concerned only with having the best adventure in the world. When the Neverwood catches on fire, Peter and company escape the island by way of the Jolly Roger, renamed the Jolly Peter. While on board, Captain Pan discovers the late Hook's second-best coat. In the pocket, he finds a treasure map of Neverland. Finally noticing the beginnings of an adventure, he immediately plans to head to the mountain of Neverpeak to claim Captain Hook's treasure. Peter makes a fatal mistake in allowing an adult, the circus master Ravello, to join his crew as butler. Ravello seems very urgent when asking Peter to wear the red coat; he is sure the boy will catch cold without it.

But along the journey, Peter grows more and more irritable. He develops a harsh cough, and it seems that whenever he wears the coat he is grouchiest - he banishes the fairy Fireflyer for depleting the food supply, and when he learns Slightly is growing older, he banishes him as well - to the awful Nowhereland, home of all the Long Lost Boys Peter has banished in times past. The band of Explorers is shocked when Peter's speaking becomes littered with sailor terms, and especially when he replaces his customary crow with the word "AVAST"!

The hike up Neverpeak is particularly arduous; Ravello offers to detach the children's shadows, so they won't get tangled on the way up. When the band finally reaches the summit of Neverpeak, Peter is impatient to get at the treasure, because he has a feeling that he wants whatever is inside so much. He digs through ice with his bare hands, flaying them raw, only to get at the treasure Peter has grown to want all along - Eton treasures. Wendy asks why Peter wants them so; he barely hears her as he admires a silver trophy, when he again catches his reflection. He looks exactly like a young version of Captain Hook, complete with long black hair and Eton tie. Peter is horrified that he is not himself, when Ravello suddenly reveals himself — he is none other than James Hook, who has survived the crocodile.

Hook is still extremely resentful of Peter, and reveals that he served as his valet so he could train him; he wanted Peter to have his own exact feelings, which were passed on to the boy through the old pirate coat. Hook explains that since he is grown he can no longer wish, and he knows Peter is the only one who could wish strong enough for the treasures Hook has wanted all his life. So he cut off Peter's shadow so the boy could not fly, combed the imagination out of his hair, and choked him with the white Eton tie. Peter refuses to believe he has become Hook, even though he knows he has been wishing Hook's wishes and even dreaming Hook's dreams.

The band is shocked, and Peter is horrified. Hook nearly steals the boy's childhood by asking him what he wants to be when he grows up, when Slightly suddenly appears. Slightly, who has been dogging the band's trail all along, warns Peter not to answer, because if you answer, you have betrayed childhood and "Looked Ahead" to adulthood. Peter feebly banishes Hook to Nowhereland, but to no avail. The league is stuck on the mountain in a blizzard, with no fire and no way to get down. Then the other outcast appears — Fireflyer, who, to impress the newly revived Tinker Bell, plunges into the brush and starts a fire, surviving the process.

But Peter, who has cast off the hated coat, has become cold and ill in his flimsy tunic. He falls to the ground in a coughing fit, and is soon taken up dead. Tootles insists they need a doctor, so Curly Looks Ahead, growing up and becoming a doctor. He makes an incision over Peter's chest, and draws out a long dusty strand. It is soon learned the Ravello and Hook's coat have not been the cause of Peter's demise, but a strand of common London fog brought in on the children's clothes.

Warmed by the fire and gladdened by Peter's newfound health, the band finds spirit enough to descend the mountain. But the danger is not yet over - Peter is accosted by the banished Long Lost Boys at the foot of the mountain, where he, John, and Wendy are thrown in the quicksand to sink. Luckily, they manage to pull themselves out, but during the interval, Ravello has arrived, with his returned circus animals. The animals are about to devour Peter and the Explorers, when a band of warring fairies descend and smother the animals. Hook is enraged, and vows to fight the weaponless Peter, but Peter is again saved, this time by the dog the children brought along. Hook is attacked by the Newfoundland, and is at the verge of death, when Wendy says all he needs to heal is a bit of sleep. She gives him a goodnight kiss, and tucks the dying man under his tattered red coat.

The children manage to escape without harm, and even find a way home with help from Mr. Smee, but Peter remains on the island. He cannot fly anywhere, because his shadow has not yet grown back. Wendy's good-bye words to Peter are, "I think your mother only shut the window to keep out the FOG!"

Unknown to Peter, Ravello "repairs" himself, once again becoming Captain Hook. The story ends with Hook cursing Peter Pan.


  • Peter Pan - Peter, the One-and-Only Child, has taken up a lonely residence in the abandoned Wendy House. At the return of the Darlings, he immediately proposes a quest. Finding the Jolly Roger and renaming it the Jolly Peter, he discovers Hook's map of Neverland, showing treasure on top of mount Neverpeak. Peter faces many obstacles along the way, but uses his cleverness to outwit the enemy, until he is nearly turned into Captain Hook because he has donned the pirate's coat. Peter is nearly killed, but is saved by Dr. Curly. At the end of the novel, The Marvelous Boy is shadowless, and confined to the island because he has lost the ability to fly until his shadow grows back.
  • Wendy Darling - at the start of the novel, the adult Wendy Darling announces they must return to Neverland. Wearing her daughter Jane's clothing, she returns to Neverland and her role as the Lost Boys' mother. Wendy is a stickler for good manners, and she is also very compassionate, feeling sorry and taking care of even the worst villains. Wendy is banished by Peter for saving the enemy, but she completely disregards her sentence.
  • Ravello - Ravello is a travelling man, a circusmaster who set up tent on the island of Neverland. When the island is set on fire, he escapes with his animals to serve as valet to Peter. Ravello is very mysterious - he is clad in a ragged woolen coat, never sleeps, and eats only eggs. It is later revealed that he is none other than Captain Hook, who survived inside the crocodile's stomach, but was mutated by stomach acid into a soft, nothing of a man. Ravello is nearly killed by the Darling's dog which was saving Peter from him, but he survives as Hook, thanks to Wendy's good-night kiss.
  • John Darling - John starts off the novel with the announcement "I won't go to bed". He is terrified by plaguing dreams of Neverland, but later consents to return to Neverland. John tries to be chivalrous throughout the novel, including opening the door for Wendy when she is banished. John's manner bears an allusive resemblance to his father George Darling, when John states "Can't a man be believed in his own house?"
  • Tootles Darling - As an adult, Tootles is a portly Judge who loves his moustache and believes everything can be solved judicially. Tootles has only daughters, so in order to return to Neverland, he must dress like a girl. This is fine with the young female Tootles, who dreams of becoming a princess and a nurse; she would also love to marry Peter, and become Tootles Pan.
  • Curly Darling - Curly is a whippety thin, sensible doctor when he decides to return to Neverland. When Peter's life is threatened, Curly agrees to become an adult, risking banishment to save Peter. Curly escapes banishment, leaving Neverland on raft. Dr. Curly takes along the family Puppy, Nana's great-great-great-grandpuppy, to Neverland and upon returning home is chastised by his children for "growing the puppy".
  • Slightly Darling - Slightly Darling has become a baronet, but his wife has died and he is left childless. He is the only one to "go down to the bottom of the bed" as a way to become a child. Slightly has learned clarinet in his adulthood, and his playing saves the League from a particularly dangerous situation. Slightly begins to grow up while on the island, and is banished by Peter. Slightly's only companion in banishment is the loyal fairy Fireflyer. Slightly helps to save Peter from growing up. When Slightly returns to London, he remains eighteen, and makes a living playing clarinet in a dance band. In this sequel, Slightly seems to have lost his rather conceited personality, and is now portrayed as shy and gentle.
  • First and Second Twin Darling - The grown-up Twins live next door to each other in London, each the father of twin boys. When they return to Neverland, they are only a few who escape banishment by Peter. It is revealed that First Twin and Second Twin are not their actual names, but Marmaduke and Binky.
  • Nibs Darling- Nibs has grown up to work in an office. He completely intended to return to Neverland, but resigned at the thought of leaving his beloved children.
  • Fireflyer - Fireflyer, a silly blue fairy, was born as the result of a baby's laugh in Kensington Garden. He is thoroughly devoted to Slightly, who admired the size of his lies. Fireflyer wishes for Tinker Bell to be alive, and ends up marrying her by the end of the novel.
  • Tinker Bell - Tinker Bell, the fairy that Wendy and John meet in their first adventure to the Neverland, where she was friend of Peter Pan and of the Lost Boys returns as the result of Fireflyer's wishing to meet her and to know her. She ends up marrying him in the end of the novel, where both of them decide to sell dreams to Roamers (ex-lost boys-who were cast out by Peter).
  • Smee - Smee has returned for this novel, and is attributed to the post of both first mate and bo'sun. Smee has taken up residence in the underground den, and knows a great deal about Grief Reef and the Maze of Regrets. He leaves the island for London, where he sets up a shop selling souvenirs from Neverland.
  • Starkey - First mate Starkey has taken control of a steamship, and has reared a group of young Indians for his crew. Starkey launches an unsuccessful attack on the Jolly Peter, and his treasure of 7,284 onions was eaten by Fireflyer.


Peter Pan in Scarlet is centered around the idea of "clothes making the man". This theme first appears when the adult Darlings don their children's clothing in order to become children themselves (this is exaggerated in the case of Tootles, who puts on a dress and becomes a girl). Later, Peter Pan discovers Captain Hook's second-best coat, and decides to wear it; Peter then morphs into a form of Captain Hook, even growing long dark curls and inheriting his temper. Only when Peter removes the coat does he become himself again. Later, it is revealed that Ravello, who is clad in unravelling clothes, is really Hook. When Ravello again wears his second-best coat, he is hardened and returns to the form of Captain Hook.

Another theme that is stressed in the novel is "time passing where no time should have passed". In Neverland, the land of summertime, it has turned autumnal and scarlet. This is supposedly due to Hook's poison, but it is suggested in the afterword that it may be caused by the war tearing holes in the veil that separates the island from the real world. It is stated that for a few ticks, time has passed in Neverland and caused it to age. Ravello is also exposed to forbidden time when he is trapped inside the crocodile. He should be dead, but he is forced to live a stenching life in a "crocodile tomb", that causes him to decay into a living rag.

Further themes are mother-love, healing and growing up.


Unlike the original play, which took several years to be adapted into other media, Great Ormond Street Hospital was quick to arrange for Peter Pan in Scarlet to be adapted.


A radio adaptation of the book was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 shortly after its release, on October 14, 2006.


Music composed by David Pickvance; producer/director Celia de Wolff.


A movie based on the book is reportedly being produced by a consortium of Headline Pictures, the UK Film Council, and BBC Films. No release date has yet been announced.

Continuity with Peter and Wendy

In the book it states that characters require a shadow to fly. However, in the original book when Peter's shadow is taken from him in the Darling home, he is able to fly away from the house to escape being caught, and later return to collect the shadow back.

The book states that the Neverland is 'always in summertime' but this is not so. According to Barrie, it harbors all seasons at once.

The original novel contains an epilogue in which Peter meets the grown-up Wendy and takes her daughter Jane to Neverland. In the sequel this second meeting is never referred to; indeed, it is mentioned that Jane has never met Peter Pan and thinks of Neverland as "just a bedtime story". It can therefore be assumed that Peter Pan in Scarlet takes place before this epilogue which means that Michael may have been killed in WWI

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