| Jeremy Sumpter in Peter Pan
London, Aug. 20: The Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, which has earned millions of pounds in royalties from the copyright of Peter Pan, is to commission a sequel to J.M. Barrie’s beloved masterpiece.
The hospital announced a nationwide competition yesterday to find an author worthy of the job. The country’s leading publishers and literary agents will be approached to each nominate two writers, who will be asked to submit a synopsis and sample chapter by January 31 next year.
Andrew Fane, chairman of the special trustees of the hospital’s children’s charity, who supervise Barrie’s copyright, said: “The hospital would be very happy to attract very talented writers like J.K. Rowling or Philip Pullman because clearly that would give the sequel a high profile. I would be very pleasantly surprised if that happened but wouldn’t it also be wonderful if we discovered a marvellous writer who is slightly less well known'”
Copyright on Barrie’s original novel runs out in Britain and Europe in 2007 and earnings from a sequel will continue to boost hospital funds. The approved sequel will also, the hospital hopes, deter unauthorised attempts to cash in on the Land of Everlasting Youth.
Last year, the hospital became involved in a costly battle in California to suppress a revisionist updating of the story in which Peter Pan grows up into happy adulthood.
The special trustees have set out strict guidelines for their sequel. It should include all the original central characters — Peter and Wendy, the Darling family, Tinkerbell, The Lost Boys and Captain Hook.
The trustees say that both the setting and the characters can be contemporary — so, for example, Captain Hook could be a modern-day villain — but the sequel should reflect the heart of the original book and be “magical”.
Peter Pan was written by James Barrie as a play 100 years ago, and did not appear as a novel until 1911.
US actor Jeremy Sumpter acted as Peter Pan, the leader of the Lost Boys, and British actor Rachel Hurd-Wood portrayed Wendy Darling in Peter Pan, the first complete film version of Barrie’s classic tale since the silent era.