Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens by J.M. Barrie

Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens by J.M. Barrie

Peter Pan Inaugurates Kensington Gardens under Arthur Rackham’s Spell

Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens endures as a landmark fantasy work in its own right while also providing backstory to J.M. Barrie’s famous Peter Pan plays and novels. As a thematic precursor to later Neverland adventures, this book cemented the indelible image of Peter as the eternal boy resisting adulthood and responsibility. Its illustrations by Rackham fuse fantasy and realism by presenting fairies and Peter interacting with actual London locales.

Embark now through the Kensington fairy portal before access disappears!

Buy Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm

The magical 1906 Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens edition with 50 iconic Rackham paintings.

  • Visualizes the origin story of Peter befriending fairies in the actual London park
  • Exquisite limited editions personally signed by Rackham himself
  • The holy grail for fans and collectors of Rackham, Barrie, fantasy art, or children’s literature -images that reshaped culture and imagination across artistic generations

Following Rackham’s acclaimed 1905 Rip Van Winkle scenes, London art dealers Ernest Brown & Phillips arranged a meeting between Rackham and author J.M. Barrie in June 1905 to propose an illustrated edition of Barrie’s beloved Peter Pan stories. Given his atmospheric landscapes proved ideal for embedding fantasy and emotion into real spaces, Rackham received commissions to produce 50 color paintings and 3 line drawings to visualize 1906’s Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.

Originally appearing within early chapters of Barrie’s 1902 adult novel The Little White Bird, publishing firm Hodder & Stoughton released lavish trade and limited editions of the Peter Pan excerpts around Christmas 1906 to enormous success. Both printings contained Rackham’s copious new full-page illustrations and vignettes chronicling the origin story of the immortal boy’s adventures in the actual London park.

Rackham’s Leicester Galleries exhibition displaying the artwork in November 1906 drew acclaim for its balance of eerie charm and botanical accuracy honoring Barrie’s settings. The rich visual narrative innovation propelled Rackham to further fame and irresistible synergy with Barrie’s writing. Their creative chemistry matched fantasy ascendance with peak Edwardian aesthetics. Much as the tale’s Fey preserve innocence through isolation, Rackham’s scenes immortalize the Park’s magic through era-defining images treasured as collective cultural touchstones.

Limited Edition (1906):

  • Cream vellum binding with gilt stamping, silk ties (125 pages + 50 mounted color plates); limited to 500 signed copies
  • 8 3⁄4 x 10 3⁄4 inches

Trade Editions:

  • UK: Reddish brown cloth binding with mounted illustrations on dark-brown paper (125 pages + 50 plates)
  • US: Green cloth binding matching UK trade version
  • France (1907): Same format as UK editions with text in French


  • 7 1⁄4 x 9 3⁄4 inches (UK)
  • 7 x 9 1⁄2 inches (US)

Text: Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens by J.M. Barrie

Illustrations: 50 mounted color plates by Arthur Rackham


  • UK: Hodder & Stoughton
  • US: Charles Scribner’s Sons
  • France: Hachette. This book was printed in Great Britain, “Edinbourg: Typographie de T. et A. Constable, Imprimerus de Sa Majeste de L’Universite.”

The 1909 version sees Rackham complete his masterpiece!

Buy Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (1909)

Arthur Rackham reached another career zenith when he unveiled 50 fantastical illustrations accompanying J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens in 1906.

  • This dazzling large format edition saw Rackham construct visual backstory for Peter and fairies inhabiting the actual London park. Strictly limited to 500 copies signed by Rackham himself, deluxe vellum versions stand as apex rarities for collectors.
  • Crimson cloth with gilt decorations to spine and front cover. 50 exquisite tipped-in colour plates with captioned tissue guards.
Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens J.M. Barrie 1906 US Edition
Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens J.M. Barrie 1906 US Edition

Beyond the lavish 1906 gift edition, Barrie’s tale spawned a variety of theater and film retellings and reinterpretations over the century. Most notably, artists and creators tend to highlight Peter’s residence in Kensington Gardens as metaphor for preserving innocence against encroaching maturity. The stark clash between fantasy and reality prove integral to the paradoxical appeal of never wanting beloved stories to end while celebrating protagonists who resist closure.

In 2019, Kensington Gardens settings saw new stage life through an Edinburgh Fringe adaptation underscoring theatrical traditions keeping Barrie’s dreamscapes alive. Like Peter himself, each regenerated production or illustration collection reopens the storybook for new readers to discover its magic. Over a century since his 1906 origins, the Gardens remain a literal site of pilgrimage for Pan followers worldwide celebrating fantasy’s triumph through Rackham’s lush visions of nature’s wonder persisting within reach if only we retain perspective to look.

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