Wendy house from Peter Pan

Why kids’ playhouses are also called Wendy Houses

You may know them better as playhouses but most people in England also know them by their other name: Wendy House, but do you know where the name came from?

It was first coined by J.M. Barrie in his 1904 play Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up (which was subsequently made into a novel and then the famous Disney film Peter Pan). The play features the character Wendy Darling who, after arriving in Neverland, was shot by the Lost Boy, Tootles. Peter Pan and his more loyal and caring Lost Boy tribe members then erect a small house around Wendy with the intention of creating a safe environment for her to recover.

In the play J.M Barrie actually created the house from a tent-like structure so that it was easy to erect quickly whilst Wendy and the Boys sang a song about it:

Wendy

I wish I had a darling house

The littlest ever seen,

With funny little red walls

And roof of mossy green

 

Boys  

With funny little red walls

And roof of mossy green

 

(Music)

 

Boys

We’ve built the little walls and roof

And made a lovely door,

So tell us Mother Wendy,

What are you wanting more?

 

Wendy 

Oh! Really next I think I’d have

Gay windows all about –

With roses peeping in, you know,

And babies peeping out.

 

Boys   

We’ve made the roses peeping in,

The babes are at the door, –

We cannot make ourselves you know,

‘Cos we’ve been made before.1

In 1914 the English illustrator, Alice B. Woodward created the now iconic illustration (below) of Wendy, the Lost Boys, Peter Pan and of course Wendy’s House. This set the precedent for many years of Wendy Houses appearing in British gardens so a massive thank you to J.M Barrie for this wonderful creation!

wendy-house-play-house

1Peter Pan and Other Plays: “The Admirable Crichton”, “Peter Pan”, “When Wendy Grew Up”, “What Every Woman Knows”, “Mary Rose” – J.M. Barrie, 1999