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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 December, 2003, 06:31 GMT
Photos' literary links to JM Barrie
Photographs from the Llewelyn Davies' album

A unique photograph album has been unearthed in Devon which shows the children who are thought to have been the inspiration behind the characters in JM Barrie's Peter Pan.

The album was uncovered in the vaults at Exeter University amongst papers belonging to the Cornwall-based novelist Daphne du Maurier.

The two boys featured in the photographs are the children of Arthur and Sylvia Llewelyn Davies.

Mrs Llewelyn-Davies was du Maurier's aunt and the boys are thought to have provided the inspiration for the Lost Boys in Peter Pan.

The family was befriended by Barrie and when Mrs Llewelyn-Davies died in 1910, the author became the boys' unofficial guardian.

Classic adventure

Exeter University librarian Dr Jessica Gardner said: "It was immediately obvious that they (the photographs) were something special.

"But it was only when we began doing some research into the pictures that we identified it actually was a photograph album relating to JM Barrie and Peter Pan.

"They are quite unique. We think the photographs were taken by JM Barrie himself and they really show the relationship he had with this family."

Photographs from the Llewelyn Davies' album

Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Would Not Grow Up, was first performed on 27 December 1904 at the Duke of York Theatre in London.

Ever since, Barrie's classic adventure story has thrilled and delighted generations of children.

The album was found among family and literary papers which once belonged du Maurier.

Also contained in the vaults are original illustrations by du Maurier's grandfather, the novelist and illustrator George du Maurier, and theatre scrap books of Daphne's father, Gerald du Maurier.

The collection also features the original typed manuscript of Rebecca, one of the nation's favourite novels, which is currently being featured in the BBC's Big Read vote; plus du Maurier's original handwritten notes outlining the story and its characters.

Peter Pan is about to hit cinema screens once more in a new 65m movie starring Jeremy Sumpter as the boy hero.

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