A search has been launched for someone to write a sequel to bring children's classic Peter Pan up to date.
The story is still well-known to children today
An established author is sought to bring the ageless boy from JM Barrie's 1904 work into the 21st Century.
Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, which gained the rights to the work when Barrie died in 1937, is sounding out publishers and literary agents.
"We hope a sequel would bring as much pleasure as the original," hospital chief executive Jane Collins said.
With the EU rights due to run out in 2007 and the US rights in 2023, the hospital hopes a sequel will extend its rights over the famous characters which have yielded large royalties from film versions.
In the UK, a form of protection and royalties are guaranteed in perpetuity by an exceptional clause in 1988 copyright legislation, but in much of the world copyright has now expired.
Established authors are the target for the competition run by the children's hospital, with literary agents and publishers invited to submit the names of up to two authors for consideration.
The competition is open to writers of both children's and adults fiction, with all nationalities welcome, although the new novel must be in English.
They will be asked to write a brief synopsis and sample chapter by 31 January next year.
Entries will be judged by a panel including Lord Puttnam, TV producer and poetry aficionado Daisy Goodwin, presenter Mariella Frostrup, former Puffin Books editor Liz Attenborough and BBC Newsround presenter Lizo Mzimba.
The Guardian newspaper said leading children's writers Philip Pullman and Jacqueline Wilson had already made it clear they would not be interested in the project.
The new book is likely to feature the same characters - Peter Pan, Wendy, Tinkerbell, the Darling family and the evil Captain Hook.
"For a number of years we have been wondering whether it was possible for a sequel to be written to Peter Pan," said Ms Collins.
"This is partly because of the additional income it would bring to the hospital but mainly because we know that so many people, children and adults, love the book and are drawn to its central theme."
The successful author must agree to split the proceeds with the hospital, with the book expected to be on sale by autumn 2005.
What do you think of the plan to write a Peter Pan sequel? Do you have any plot ideas for the new book?
Is this a joke? The eccentric, often somewhat surrealistic tone of Barrie's original is impossible to mimic - and very much part of the book's appeal. Sounds like a literary crime in the making to me.
Richard, Colombo, Sri Lanka
What about a prequel? One which addresses the important issue of what Capt. Hook was called before his unfortunate accident...
Simon Holt, Dublin, Ireland (ex Bristol)
I know it is not a book, but I think that Hook was a wonderful adaptation of Barrie's novel, asking the question what would have happened if Peter had have grown up. Peter becomes like the rest of us adults how are too invovled in being grown up and forgets about his childhood... I think the film has all of the mystery and magic of the book...
Colum Hughes, Liverpool
I am a sportswriter and columnist. I would like the opportunity to join the contest. Who better to write the sequel than a boy who has never grown up?
John Pitonzo, Florence, Italy
Personally, I think that the Film "Hook" was a worthy sequal. It had all the essense of the original Pan. I do think that there is scope to have an in-between movie/book - but Peter Pan the Teenage Years doesn't really appeal. I think that part of the magic of reading a book like Peter Pan when you are young, is that you are left to decide what might have become of the characters. That is what makes a great book. One which allows the readers imagination to run riot with all the possibilities. Maybe if the Publishers just had a big relaunch of the original Peter Pan it would open it up to a whole new reader group and possibly get all the adults out there to re-read or indeed read it for the first time. I admit that all this talk of sequels has got me reaching for the nearest copy of the original!
Jessica McMichael, York, UK
Why an established writer? There are plenty of non-established writers out there who would love a chance to carry Pan forward to the 21st century. I understand that the Hospital require the prestige of the Rowling and Pullman media-wagons, but, a new author will generate just as much coverage, albeit of a different kind. Different isn't bad, it's just unique. Which is what we want this sequel to be, is it not? So I say, move over Rowling and Pullman and do something special Great Ormand Street - give it to the people. This is a public hospital after all!
Jo Scollen, Wimbledon, London
Must one be a published children's author, or only a published author? I should think a sequel in which a mature and married Peter and Wendy confront their own children's refusal to grow up, and return, with the help of Tinkerbell, to Neverneverland, should present some interesting possibilities. There might even be a discussion of what makes children fear growing up, so that the story would have something more than comic-book morality to offer.
Carol Barton, Danville, Virginia (USA)
I agree that JK Rowling is an obvious choice. Indeed the way that Harry Potter subverts the reality of today, is similar to Peter Pan. However JK Rowling's stories do not seem to have the malice that the pirates once held. As for an idea - modern day London life transported to a fantastical place is obviously the way to go - but is a desert island with pirates sufficiently fantastical or hostile for the modern sophisticated youth audience? A new planet that has desert island qualities... Of course such an approach then can reference other popular aspects of children (And adult) entertainment genres.
Simon Potts, London, UK
Peter Pan's girlfriend grows up, has children and flies away with Peter Pan and the whole adventure begins again - as long as the story is written properly and does not spoil the first one.
Nina Allen, Scotland
I'm not sure how you could write a sequel as magical as the definitive Peter Pan story. However, what was the 1990s motion picture Hook if it wasn't an attempt at a sequel to the story?
Richard, Birmingham, UK
It's a disgrace that this country can't fully fund its medical services and that hospitals need to raise extra money, to give us all services that we pay our taxes for. A sequel to Peter Pan would make Barrie him turn in his grave, even if it is for a good cause.
P. Smith, Wilts
Great idea, has no one thought of the best childrens and adult author of the moment JK Rowling? If anyone can create the magic of Peter Pan she can.
Roisin Scott, Belfast , Ireland
I think if it is done right, it would be wonderful, though quite who the 'baddies' would be I'm not sure. But it would certainly make sense - Neverland is fairly timeless so there's no reason whatsoever why the little chappy might not turn up again in London a century or so later than his last appearance. Go for it, I say - just make it gripping and not too silly - there's an awful tendency these days to make things that are child-friendly far too sickly sweet (Phillip Pullman and JK Rowling notwithstanding), and thing thing about the original peter pan was that the bad guys were BAD, not just a bit mean.
Jez, leeds uk
My first reaction was to suggest that such a classic should be left alone, but if a new book raises money for the hospital then that's a good thing. However, I hope whoever takes on the job fares better than Disney did with their awful sequel.
Darren, Camberley, England
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