Tuesday, 27 May 2008
On this day, in another May...
I can never walk along Church Row in Hampstead -- which is just around the corner from where I was born -- without thinking of the Llewelyn Davies brothers, who are buried alongside their du Maurier relatives in the graveyard. It's a beautiful place, whether in May sunshine or showers, but melancholy, also, and today I found myself thinking of Michael Llewelyn Davies in particular, who was born on June 16th 1900, and died on May 19th 1921. A contemporary account of his death appeared (see above) in the Oxford Chronicle, eight days later, on May 27th.
Michael drowned in Sandford Pool, in the arms of another Oxford undergraduate, Rupert Buxton. There has always been speculation that it was suicide, though the circumstances of their deaths remains uncertain. One of the witnesses told the coroner's court: "Their heads were close together; they were sort of standing in the water and not struggling..."
When I was researching 'Daphne', I found myself returning over and over again to the story of her cousin Michael -- one of the five 'Lost Boys' adopted by J.M Barrie, the celebrated inspirations for 'Peter Pan' -- without ever being able to come to a definite conclusion. Perhaps that is one of the reasons his life remains so compelling, because its outline eludes us. He remains a lost boy; forever young, forever mysterious, forever just out of reach.