Skip to main content

Llewelyn Davies family papers

Call Number: GEN MSS 554

Scope and Contents

The Llewelyn Davies Family Papers contain correspondence, photographs, and other material relating chiefly to members of the Llewelyn Davies family, though materials also relate to members of the Du Maurier family and to author and dramatist J. M. Barrie. The collection spans the years 1842 to 1963, with the bulk of the collection dating from 1890 to 1920.

The collection is housed in twelve boxes and organized into three series: Correspondence, Photographs, and Other Material. Boxes 9-10 contain Oversize material and box 11 contains Restricted Fragile Papers.

Series I, Correspondence , housed in boxes 1-4, is organized into four subseries: Outgoing Llewelyn Davies Family Correspondence, Incoming Llewelyn Davies Family Correspondence, Third Party Correspondence, and Llewelyn Davies Family Correspondence Compiled by Peter Llewelyn Davies.

The Outgoing Llewelyn Davis Family Correspondence subseries contains the outgoing letters of members of the Llewelyn Davies family, including Arthur Llewelyn Davies' wife Sylvia du Maurier. There are letters from Arthur and Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, and from Arthur's many siblings, but these papers feature the correspondence from Arthur and Sylvia's five sons: George, John ("Jack"), Peter, Michael, and Nicholas ("Nico"). There are letters from the boys to their parents and other relatives, to their nanny, Mary Hodgson, and to family friend J. M. Barrie ("Uncle Jim"), whose famous character, "Peter Pan," was inspired by the Llewelyn Davies children. The largest files exist for correspondence from Nicholas and Peter Llewelyn Davies to Barrie and Hodgson. There are, for example, 22 ALS from Nicholas to Barrie, dating from 1911, when Nicholas was only eight years old, to 1924, when he was a student at Oxford. There are 35 ALS from Peter to Barrie, with all but one letter dating from late 1915 to 1918, and most written during the summer and fall of 1916 when Peter was posted at the front, in France, with the 1st Battalion. Letters describe the conditions and experience of the war.

The Incoming Llewelyn Davies Family Correspondence contains letters to members of the Llewelyn Davies family from people outside the immediate family. Correspondents include Barrie, Hodgson, members of the Du Maurier family, and friends. The correspondence from Barrie includes two letters to George Llewelyn Davies, who served at the front with the 4th Battalion, only days before George's death in March 1915. Two long letters from novelist Daphne du Maurier to Nicholas Llewelyn Davies, dating from 1960 and 1963 respectively, respond to Peter's death and to what is described as a three-volume manuscript on the Llewelyn Davies family. Quite possibly she refers to Peter's compilation of family letters and papers (known as the "Morgue") noted below. In addition, there are letters from Sylvia's father, novelist George du Maurier, Henry James, Eton housemaster Hugh Macnaghten, Roger Senhouse, and others.

The Third Party Correspondence subseries includes letters between others, with additional letters from Barrie and members of the Du Maurier family.

Letters in the first three subseries are arranged alphabetically first by correspondent and then by recipient. When multiple letters are present for a particular recipient, letters are arranged chronologically.

Peter Llewelyn Davies compiled family correspondence and papers, and there is a bound volume of handwritten transcriptions of selected letters in the archive, corrected and with extensive notes, and five folders of typescript copies. The compilation, entitled "Some Davies Letters & Papers continued, 1889-1907," includes letters from Llewelyn Davies and Du Maurier family members, among others. In his J. M. Barrie and the Lost Boys (1979), Andrew Birkin cites Peter's "Some Davies Letters and Papers, 1974-1915" as a six-volume compilation. The differences between the titles and dates suggest that the volume here is a middle volume in this larger project.

Series II, Photographs , housed in boxes 5-7, is organized into four subseries: Indexes and Albums, People, Places, and Other Subjects.

The photographs in the collection were accompanied by two indexes and two. The indexes provide additional descriptive context to the actual photographs listed in the People, Places, and Other Subjects subseries. The albums, one of which includes captions and the other a signature, have been retained and housed in oversize storage.

The photographs in the People subseries are subdivided into three groups: Llewelyn Davies Family, Llewelyn Davies Family with J. M. Barrie and Others, and Others. Photographs of the Llewelyn Davies children, their parents, other members of the Du Maurier family, and J. M. Barrie date from 1870 to 1937, with the bulk dating from 1890 to 1920, when the boys where still young, and before the deaths of George and Michael in 1915 and 1921 respectively. There are studio portraits and snapshots of Sylvia and the boys, and the eight folders of family photographs, in which two or more members of the family are present, document various domestic scenes and leisure activities: excursions to the beach and fishing, vacations, and games such as cricket and tennis. There are also studio portraits of several members of the Du Maurier family.

Photographs in the Llewelyn Davies Family with J. M. Barrie and Others subseries include images of Barrie, Bernard Shaw, Dora Carrington, and groups of people. Other photographs include images of the Llewelyn Davies' homes and retreats, including the Kirby Lonsdale vicarage and the Black Lake cottage in Surrey, a short walk from the Barrie's country home, where the Llewelyn Davies vacationed in the summer of 1901.

There are approximately 435 photographs in the collection, providing a broad and intimate resource into the lives of J. M. Barrie and the Llewelyn Davies and Du Maurier families. Many photographic portraits in the collection were taken by well-known photographers or at well-known studios, including Frederick Hollyer, H. S. Mendelssohn, and Lizzie Caswall Smith. When photographers or studios are known, attributions are made in folder notes in the box list. The photographs are accompanied by numeric and chronological indexes that provide additional item-level description, including the names of individuals and groups, places, and dates.

Series III, Other Material , housed in box 8, is organized into four subseries: Drawings, Printed Ephemera, Writings and Notes, and Other Material. Materials include the following: drawings of Sylvia and Arthur Llewelyn Davies by Guy du Maurier; holograph draft and draft fragments of writings by J. M. Barrie; two printed albums, My Confession Book and The Querist's Album, completed in manuscript by various members of the Llewelyn Davies family and friends, including Barrie, sometimes with revealing and amusing answers; and two wills by Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, dating from 1907 and 1910, and Barrie's controversial transcription of the revised will, in which he appears to have substituted his name for that of Jenny Hodgson, sister to the boy's nanny, in order to secure his place as guardian to the five boys.

Oversize material, housed in boxes 9-10, contains material from Series II and Series III. Restricted Fragile Papers are housed in box 11.


  • 1842-1963


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Box 11: Restricted fragile material. Reference surrogates have been substituted in the main files. For further information consult the appropriate curator.

Conditions Governing Use

The Llewelyn Davies Family Papers are the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Llewelyn Davies Family Papers, formerly in the collection of Andrew Birkin, were acquired through purchase from Sotheby's, London, on the Edwin J. Beinecke Book Fund, 2004.

Associated Materials

Related material can be found in the J. M. Barrie Collection, located at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and the Du Maurier Family Papers, 1818-1988, located at the University of Exeter.


8.4 Linear Feet ((12 boxes) )

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The Llewelyn Davies family papers contain correspondence, photographs, and other material relating chiefly to the Llewelyn Davies family, though materials also relate to members of the Du Maurier family and to author and dramatist J. M. Barrie, whose character, "Peter Pan," was inspired by the Llewelyn Davies children.


The following chart provides lines of descent for the Llewelyn Davies family.

John Llewelyn Davies (1826-1916) m. (1859) Mary Crompton (d. 1885)
--Crompton Llewlyn Davies
--Harry Llewelyn Davies
--Theodore Llewelyn Davies
--Margaret Llewelyn Davies (1861-)
--Maurice Llewelyn Davies
--Arthur Llewelyn Davies (d. 1907) m. (1892) Sylvia du Maurier (1867-1910)
----George Llewelyn Davies (1893-1915)
----John ("Jack") Llewelyn Davies (1894-1959) m. Geraldine ("Gerrie") Gibb
----Peter Llewelyn Davies (1897-1960)
----Michael Llewelyn Davies (1900-1921)
----Nicholas Llewelyn Davies (1901-1980)


The following chart provides lines of descent for the Du Maurier family.

George Louis Palmella Busson du Maurier (1834-1896) m. (1863?) Emma Wightwick
--Guy du Maurier (1865-1915)
--Sylvia du Maurier (1867-1910)
--Gerald du Maurier (1873-1934)
----Daphne du Maurier (1907-1989)


Arthur Llewelyn Davies (d. 1907) was one of seven children and the second son of Mary Crompton (d. 1885) and John Llewelyn Davies (1826-1916). John, a respected scholar, theologian, and translator, and outspoken advocate of worker's rights, trade unionism, and women's suffrage, was Rector at Kirby Lonsdale, Cumbria. Arthur Llewelyn Davies was admitted to the bar in 1891, and in 1892 married Sylvia du Maurier (1867-1910), daughter of illustrator and novelist George du Maurier (1834-1896). Arthur and Sylvia had five sons: George (1893-1915), John or "Jack" (1894-1959), Peter (1897-1960), Michael (1900-1921), and Nicholas (1901-1980).

Author and dramatist J. M. Barrie (1860-1937) befriended the Llewelyn Davies family in the 1890s, and his famous character "Peter Pan" was inspired by the Llewelyn Davies children. Summary information on J. M. Barrie is available in the standard print and online resources. For additional information on Barrie's relationship with the Llewelyn Davies family, see Andrew Birkin's J. M. Barrie & the Lost Boys.

Guide to the Llewelyn Davies Family Papers
by Michael L. Forstrom
February 2007
Description rules
Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
(203) 432-2977


121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours

Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.