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Hooked On Compromises

Ernest Lawford (Captain Hook) and Maude Adams (Peter) in Act V of Peter Pan. This sepia toned photo was much too grainy to be reproduced in Peter Pan On Stage and Screen (1905).

One of my goals for Peter Pan On Stage and Screen 1904-2010 was to include a new assortment of photographs and art, rare and different from the first edition. Not happy with most of the photos in the Maude Adams chapter in The Peter Pan Chronicles which were taken from the Peter Pan souvenir program of 1905, , I decided that this time I would not include any from that pamphlet. This was not an easy decision as photos satisfactory for publication featuring Ernest Lawford

This image of Ernest Lawford from the souvenir program was rather poorly reproduced in the first edition and was rejected for the new version (1905).

as Captain Hook are difficult to find and the program features two photos of the actor in costume. When I sent my original selection of photos I included a photo postcard of Act V, The Pirate Ship, which depicted Adams exclaiming, “I am youth, I’m joy. I’m a little bird that has broken out of the egg.” A few days later I received a list from my editor of twenty photos that were not acceptable, that is, they would not reproduce effectively in the book. Included was the Lawford photo. Reluctantly, I sent a photo from the souvenir program and after that was rejected I sent still another from the same booklet. And you guessed it, rejected again. Of course I wrote and called my editors, begging to have one of the photos included but there were also other photos I was fighting for which were much more important. Finally, I rented a photo of Lawford without his Hook make-up and costume. Comparing the photos of the first edition of my book with its

My favorite photo of Maude Adams as Peter Pan captures the essence of a pouting boy who is not getting his way. This photo is from the souvenir program which was poorly reproduced in the first edition. Taking no chances, I did not include it in the selection of photos for consideration (1905).

current incarnation, I now see that my editors indeed made the correct decision. While I was hooked on presenting a wealth of Peter Pan ephemera in the book, they were also looking at the quality of that presentation, not only for the sake of my book, but also for their own reputation. A few rare and historically significant photos featured in the final product are also less than ideal but they were included through compromise. I’m very grateful to the editors and artists at McFarland for sticking to their guns when appropriate, and bending when necessary. And as McFarland does not include acknowledgements to their staff in their publications, at least here I can state in print, “Thanks folks!”

A few weeks before the new edition was published I found this postcard at an ephemera show. Compare its quality with the former sepia photo and I think you'll agree that it would have been included in the book. Sigh, timing is everything.




One thought on “Hooked On Compromises

  1. I love the pictures from the Maude Adams program. Such a delight to look at and dream of traveling back in time to watch that production.
    Bruce, is it possible to order your new book from you and have in signed?

    Posted by Keith Lowe | August 11, 2011, 3:10 AM

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