What Is JM Barrie's Play "Mary Rose" About?


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Written in 1920, this is often though of as a typical piece of sentimental fantasy by the author of Peter Pan. In fact it makes a grim companion to that famous play, being another version of his favourite theme, the child who never grows up.

This time the child is a girl, Mary Rose, who vanishes on a mysterious island while on holiday with her parents in the Hebrides. She returns weeks later, unaware that any time has passed, and grows up strange and immature, subject to odd fancies. As a young woman she marries and has a child, but still remains childish herself. With her husband, Simon, she revisits the island and vanishes again, this time for twenty-five years. When she comes back this time she fails to recognise her middle-aged husband and elderly parents. She is desperate to find her "baby" and in a macabre scene accuses Harry, her grown-up son, of stealing her baby from her. Eventually she is reconciled with her adult son and manages to get back to the mysterious other world where she has spent most of her life, since there is no longer a place for her on earth.

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