To J M Barrie she was an innocent mother-like child, prone to nothing more than a flirtatious yearning to kiss Peter Pan; to a new audience, she is at the centre of explicit sexual encounters in a book which its writer admits is "pornography".
Lost Girls, an extraordinary 400-page book by the acclaimed writer Alan Moore, chronicles a series of erotic fantasies starring the heroine of children's classic Peter Pan.
But the book, to be published later this month, has horrified Great Ormond Street Hospital which owns the rights to the character and claims the subject matter is "inappropriate". It is now considering its next move after the US publisher Top Shelf Productions told The Independent on Sunday it is planning to distribute the book in the UK.
Eccentric British writer Moore, who has turned the graphic novel into a literary force with books such as Watchmen and V for Vendetta, has spent 16 years working on the 400-page book with his partner, the illustrator Melinda Gebbie. In Lost Girls, Wendy and two other stars of children's literature, Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz and Alice from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, meet up in later life and discuss their colourful sexual experiences, which include a variety of graphically depicted acts including group sex. There is a sex scene on almost every page.
Owing to a quirk in the law - author Barrie gave his ownership of Peter Pan to the hospital to raise money through royalty payments and the rights extend for ever due to a legal exemption - the copyright in Wendy is still active in the UK. Moore says he is prepared for a storm, but said that tackling Wendy in a sexual way was "fair game".
He said: "At the end of Peter Pan, Wendy is a grown-up woman, with her own children. Therefore, if this has happened in the normal way, she has presumably had a sexual relationship. It struck me that this seemed like fair game.
"I feel that each of us has a right to express ourselves in that area. People can read it or not, as they see fit, and they can judge it for themselves."
Great Ormond Street said publishers had made no contact to seek their approval but "in order to be published or distributed in these territories, Alan Moore's title would need our permission or licence".
A spokesman for the hospital said: "We have in the past taken the view that certain uses were not appropriate. It's a different situation with copyright law in the US. There have been prequels and sequels published in the States. It's unlikely we'll do anything about that.
"But both the book and the play are still in copyright in the UK. There could be an argument that this could infringe on our copyright."
Brett Warnock, publisher of Top Shelf, said discussions were going on between the firm's lawyer and the hospital about the use of the character and he was "not at liberty to discuss" the details. But he added: "It is indeed our full intent to distribute to the UK."Reuse content