When the authorised sequel to JM Barrie's children's classic
is published in October, it will not be the only adaptation of the original vying for attention in book stores.
Children's author Geraldine McCaughrean has finished writing Peter Pan in Scarlet and has given the first hints about what happens to Peter and his young friends in the eagerly awaited follow-up to the 1911 original.
Great Ormond Street Hospital, the owner of copyright for Peter Pan since 1929, is hoping to raise money from the official sequel before its remaining rights on the novel, in the European Union, run out at the end of 2007.
But they will face competition from other adaptations written in the United States, where the veto on the novel does not apply.
Disney has already published a prequel to Peter Pan, called Peter and the Starcatchers, and will release another adaptation called Peter and the Shadow Thieves" today, according to its Web site www.Peterandthestarcatchers.Com.
"I think it's a shame about the timing, as it is not going to do any kindnesses to the official sequel," said McCaughrean, who was chosen from around 200 authors to write the official sequel.
But she was confident that her version, published on October 5, would hold its own.
McCaughrean said she had kept as many of the original characters as possible, including Peter, Wendy, the Lost Boys and Tinker Bell, and the action would be again set in Neverland.
But asked if there was a return for the villainous Captain Hook, last seen disappearing down the throat of a crocodile, she replied: "You'll have to wait and see."
DARKNESS OF ORIGINAL
Great Ormond Street officials say McCaughrean has maintained the integrity of the original characters, whereas other versions tended to play down the darker aspects of Barrie's story.
"The darkness in Peter Pan has always been an interesting facet of his character and the dark side of people has always interested me more than bright heroic adventures," the author yesterday told Reuters by telephone.
For example, she noted that Pan actually "culls" the boys on the island when they appear to be getting too old.
McCaughrean also said she was sensitive to objections the original book raised, including that it of racism and sexism.
"I'm not very partial to 'PC' (political correctness) and don't believe in it myself, but this book must be acceptable to an awful lot of people across the world," she said.
"You have to think about various areas, in America even, where they are very 'PC' and you do have to be careful."
Great Ormond Street said it would split the royalties from Peter Pan in Scarlet with the author, and McCaughrean has allowed it to have the copyright.
As guardian of the original, the hospital last month criticised British writer Alan Moore for a graphic novel, which features the character of Wendy in a work of erotic fiction.
Moore called Lost Girls "pornography", and Great Ormond Street said it would consider whether to grant permission to its publishers if they wanted to distribute the book in Europe.