Friday, June 14, 2013

"Hook at Eton"

Ah, Eton College.

Such a key part of James Hook's past and in fact, his entire psychology. This can be gleaned from the pages of Peter Pan, but J.M. Barrie didn't fill in many of the details until 1927, when he gave a speech at the school after being invited by the provost to refute the statement, "James Hook, the pirate captain,was a great Etonian, but not a good one."

Without this additional information from Barrie's "Hook at Eton," I would not know about James's yellow blood, or the shipwreck in Manaus. That he was a member of Pop, the nickname of the exclusive Eton Society. That he had not only held the school close in memory but had gone back to visit in later years. That he favored the poets of the Lake School, such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsmouth. Why a silk hat would be of such importance to him.

Vivian Drew has her own opinions about the Captain's Eton days. Public schooling goes against her ideas of how children ought to be raised, but she also harbors resentments because her gender and financial position prevented her from having such options. But beyond that, she objects to James holding those memories so close. She believes they provide constant re-injury rather than solace and prevent him from being able to look forward. Oh, how she dislikes that Eton crest tattoo of his, not that she would ever wound him by saying so aloud.

Without a December 2010 article by Brian Till for The Atlantic,  The Secret History of Captain Hook," I might be missing an absolutely key piece of research for The Stowaway. Till's article (recommended reading: it's excellent) led me to the original speech from M'Connache and J.M.B: Speeches, published by Hugh Walpole in 1939. I was lucky enough to find it on before it was pulled down, and to get a copy for myself through Questia. It's not an easy speech to find.

I suspect that Renae De Liz has come upon it as well, from hints she has dropped regarding her upcoming graphic novel of Peter Pan, a retelling faithful to the original. (I learned just recently that this will be available primarily to Kickstarter supporters. While I'm pleased to be one of them, I'm sorry this won't be more widely available, both on its own merits and because the original Peter Pan is not as well known as it ought to be.) I hope there are more of us familiar with "Hook at Eton" than I'm aware of. The Captain deserves to have this part of his story better known.

More soon on the "Eton slouch," and also George Orwell.

1 comment:

  1. I would like to know more about Hook at Eton. I need more articles about this subject