Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity

Great Ormond Street Hospital

Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Would Not Grow Up, has been helping other children to grow up for over 80 years.

The first performance of Peter Pan took place on 27 December 1904 at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London, to tremendous acclaim. Barrie later adapted the play into novel form, which was first published in 1911 under the title Peter and Wendy. In 1928 the play of Peter Pan was published in its final version. It was at this time that Barrie first mentioned, to Nico, one of the Llewelyn Davies boys to whom he was guardian, that he was thinking of giving the rights to the story and characters to Great Ormond Street Hospital.

His association with Great Ormond Street Hospital dates back to 1908, when he made what is believed to be his first donation to contribute towards the campaign run by his friend William Waldorf Astor for a much needed new outpatients building. This was to be the beginning of an enduring relationship between Barrie and the hospital, and the author paid several visits to its wards over the ensuing years.

In February 1929, the Governors of the Hospital approached Barrie and asked him to sit on a committee for an extensive redevelopment plan, in which the hospital would be rebuilt on the site of the Old Founding Hospital (in the event the hospital was actually rebuilt on its original site). Barrie declined to serve on the committee, but he promised to find some other way to help Great Ormond Street Hospital. This he certainly did; by April, he had handed over the copyright of his immortal children’s classic to the hospital. He was elected vice-president of the hospital the same month.

At his death in 1937, the provision was confirmed in his Will. Though childless himself, Barrie loved children and had long been a supporter of the hospital, and his exceptional gift was a natural expression of that. 100 years after the first performance, the play is still enchanting children and adults alike.

In the finest tradition of the fairy story there will always remain one secret that can never be told - how much has Great Ormond Street Hospital benefited from J.M. Barrie’s generosity? It was Barrie's wish that this would never be disclosed but it is certain Peter Pan and his adventures have helped towards making the Hospital the incredible centre of hope it is today.

As with all productions of Peter Pan, Great Ormond Street Hospital also benefits financially every time Piers Chater Robinson’s musical adaptation of Peter Pan is staged in any country, either by professional or amateur companies.

Hospital History

The Hospital for Sick Children at Great Ormond Street opened its doors on 14 February 1852 with just 10 beds. It was the first children’s hospital in Britain and quickly acquired the Patronage of Queen Victoria and wide public interest, including that of Charles Dickens. In fact, Dickens wrote the first fundraising feature, Drooping Buds, and held the first recorded fundraising event, a recital of A Christmas Carol given by the author himself. The event was hugely successful enabling the hospital to purchase a second building and so double its size.

Today the hospital has over 380 beds and offers the UK’s widest range of paediatric specialities under one roof, treating children from all over the country, and worldwide through outreach clinics and telemedicine projects. A major redevelopment of the site, is underway so it remains vital that they continue to receive public support to help the hospital, and the children it treats, get better.

If you would like to make a donation, be involved in, or for more information, visit the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity site at:

© 2007 Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity. Registered charity No 235825