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P. L. Travers
PL Travers.jpg
Pamela Lyndon Travers, appearing in the role of Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream
Born Helen Lyndon Goff
(1899-08-09)9 August 1899
Maryborough, Queensland, Australia
Died 23 April 1996(1996-04-23) (aged 96)
London, England, United Kingdom
Resting place St Mary the Virgin's Church, Twickenham, England, United Kingdom
Occupation Writer, actress, journalist
Nationality Australian
Citizenship Australian, British
Genre Children's literature
Notable works Mary Poppins book series
Children Camillus Travers Hone
(adopted son)

Pamela Lyndon Travers, OBE (born Helen Lyndon Goff; 9 August 1899 – 23 April 1996), was an Australian-British novelist, actress and journalist.[1] In 1924, she emigrated to England where she wrote under the pen name P. L. Travers. In 1933, she began writing her series of children's novels about the mystical and magical English nanny Mary Poppins. During the Second World War, while working for the British Ministry of Information, she travelled to New York where Roy Disney first contacted her about selling the Mary Poppins character to the Disney studio for film use.

For services to literature, Travers was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty the Queen in 1977. Her popular books have been adapted many times, including the 1964 film starring Julie Andrews and the Broadway musical originally produced in London's West End.

Early life[edit]

Helen Lyndon Goff (known within her family as Lyndon) was born in Maryborough, Queensland, Australia. Her father, Travers Robert Goff, was of Irish background, but born in Deptford, south London, England. He was an alcoholic and unsuccessful in his career as bank manager (later demoted to bank clerk).[2] Her mother was Margaret Agnes, née Morehead, the niece of Boyd Dunlop Morehead, who was Premier of Queensland from 1888 to 1890. Travers Goff's occupation took the family to Allora, Queensland in 1905, where he died of influenza two years later, aged 43. Following this, Lyndon Goff and her mother and sisters moved to Bowral, New South Wales in 1907, and lived there until 1917.[3] She boarded at Normanhurst Girls School in Ashfield, Sydney, during World War I.

Career[edit]

Lyndon Goff began publishing her poems while still a teenager and wrote for The Bulletin and Triad while also gaining a reputation as an actress; she soon adopted the stage name "Pamela Lyndon Travers". She toured Australia and New Zealand with Allan Wilkie's Shakespearean Company before leaving for England in 1924. There she dedicated herself to writing under the pen name P. L. Travers.[4] In 1931, she moved out of a rented flat in London that she shared with her friend Madge Burnand, and the two set up home together in a thatched Sussex cottage.[2] It was here, in the winter of 1933, that she began to write Mary Poppins.[2]

Travers greatly admired and emulated J. M. Barrie, the author of the 1911 novel Peter and Wendy, which bears many structural resemblances to the Mary Poppins series. Indeed, Travers' first publisher was Peter Llewelyn Davies, Barrie's adopted son and widely regarded as the model for Peter Pan.[2]

While in Ireland in 1925, Travers met the poet George William Russell (who wrote under the name "Æ") who, as editor of The Irish Statesman, accepted some of her poems for publication. Through Russell, Travers met W. B. Yeats, Oliver St. John Gogarty, and other Irish poets who fostered her interest in and knowledge of world mythology. She had studied the Gurdjieff System under Jane Heap and in March 1936, with the help of Jessie Orage (widow of Alfred Richard Orage), she met the mystic George Gurdjieff, who would have a great effect on her, as well as on several other literary figures.[5]

At the invitation of her friend, US Commissioner of Indian Affairs John Collier, Travers spent two summers living among the Navajo, Hopi and Pueblo peoples studying their mythology and folklore.[6][7] After the war, she became Writer-in-Residence at Radcliffe College and Smith College.[8] She returned to England, making only one brief visit to Sydney in 1960 while on her way to Japan to study Zen mysticism.

Travers' literary output other than Mary Poppins and its sequels included other novels, poetry collections and works of non-fiction.

Mary Poppins[edit]

Published in London in 1934, Mary Poppins was Travers' first literary success. Sequels followed (the last in 1988).[9]

While appearing as a guest on BBC Radio 4's radio programme Desert Island Discs in May 1977, Travers revealed that the name "M. Poppins" originated from childhood stories that she contrived for her sisters, and that she was still in possession of a book from that age with this name inscribed within.[10] Travers' great aunt, Helen Morehead, who lived in Woollahra, Sydney, and used to say, 'Spit spot, into bed' is a likely inspiration for the character.[11][12]

Disney version[edit]

Main article: Mary Poppins (film)

The Disney musical adaptation was released in 1964. Primarily based on the first novel in what expanded into a series of eight books, it also lifted elements from the sequel Mary Poppins Comes Back. Although Travers was an adviser to the production, she disapproved of the dilution of the harsher aspects of Mary Poppins' character, felt ambivalent about the music, and so hated the use of animation that she ruled out any further adaptations of the later Mary Poppins novels.[13] At the film's star-studded première (to which she was not invited, but had to ask Walt Disney for permission to attend), she reportedly approached Disney and told him that the animated sequence had to go.[14] Disney responded by walking away, saying as he did, "Pamela, the ship has sailed."[14] Enraged at what she considered shabby treatment at Disney's hands, Travers would never again agree to another Poppins/Disney adaptation, though Disney made several attempts to persuade her to change her mind.

So fervent was Travers' dislike of the Disney adaptation and of the way she felt she had been treated during the production, that when producer Cameron Mackintosh approached her about the stage musical when she was into her 90s, she acquiesced on the condition that only English-born writers and no one from the film production were to be directly involved with creating the stage musical.[15] This specifically excluded the Sherman Brothers from writing additional songs for the production. However, original songs and other aspects from the 1964 film were allowed to be incorporated into the production. Contrary to popular belief these points were not stipulated in her last will and testament.[16] A section in her will (section 5-c) directs the trustees to follow her wishes regarding exploitation of her literary estate, but these wishes have not been made public.

The 2013 movie Saving Mr. Banks is a dramatised story about both the working process during the planning of Mary Poppins and also that of Travers' early life, drawing parallels with Mary Poppins and that of the author's childhood. The movie stars Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers and Tom Hanks as Walt Disney.

Personal life[edit]

Though Travers had numerous fleeting relationships with men throughout her life, she lived for more than a decade with Madge Burnand, daughter of Sir Francis Burnand, a playwright and the former editor of Punch. They shared a London flat from 1927 to 1934, then moved to a thatched cottage in Sussex, where Travers published the first of the Mary Poppins books; while on holiday in Italy, Burnand photographed Travers topless on the beach. Their friendship, in the words of one biographer, was “intense,” but also equally ambiguous.[17]

At the age of 40, two years after moving out on her own, Travers adopted a baby boy from Ireland whom she named Camillus Travers Hone. He was the grandchild of Joseph Hone, W. B. Yeats' first biographer, who was raising his seven grandchildren with his wife. Camillus had a twin brother named Anthony, but Travers chose only Camillus, based on advice from her astrologer. Camillus was unaware of his true parentage or the existence of any siblings until the age of 17, when Anthony came to London and knocked on the door of Travers' house. He had been drinking and demanded to see his brother. Travers refused to allow it and threatened to call the police. Anthony left, but soon after, Camillus, following an argument with Travers, went looking for his brother and found him in a pub on Kings Road.[17][18][19]

Travers was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1977. She lived into advanced old age, but her health was declining toward the end of her life. Travers died in London on 23 April 1996 at the age of 96. According to her grandchildren, Travers "died loving no one and with no one loving her."[20]

Her son Camillus died in London in November 2011.[21]

Works[edit]

Books[edit]

  • Mary Poppins, London: Gerald Howe, 1934
  • Mary Poppins Comes Back, London: L. Dickson & Thompson Ltd., 1935
  • I Go By Sea, I Go By Land, London: Peter Davies, 1941
  • Aunt Sass, New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1941
  • Ah Wong, New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1943
  • Mary Poppins Opens the Door, London: Peter Davies, 1943
  • Johnny Delaney, New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1944
  • Mary Poppins in the Park, London: Peter Davies, 1952
  • Gingerbread Shop (1952)
  • Mr. Wigg's Birthday Party (1952)
  • The Magic Compass (1953)
  • Mary Poppins From A to Z, London: Collins, 1963
  • The Fox at the Manger, London: Collins, 1963
  • Friend Monkey, London: Collins, 1972
  • Mary Poppins in the Kitchen, New York & London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975
  • Two Pairs of Shoes, New York: Viking Press, 1980
  • Mary Poppins in Cherry Tree Lane, London: Collins, 1982
  • Mary Poppins and the House Next Door, London: Collins. 1988.
  • Mary Poppins and the House Next Door, New York: Delacorte Press, 1989

Collections[edit]

  • Stories from Mary Poppins (1952)

Non-fiction[edit]

  • Moscow Excursion, New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1934
  • About the Sleeping Beauty, London: Collins, 1975
  • What the Bee Knows: Reflections on Myth, Symbol and Story (1989)
  • George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff

References[edit]

  1. ^ PL Travers (British author). Encyclopedia Britannica.
  2. ^ a b c d Picardie, Justine (28 October 2008). "Was P L Travers the real Mary Poppins?". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 25 November 2010. 
  3. ^ Lawson 1999.
  4. ^ "P. L. Travers", Notable biographies 
  5. ^ Lawson 2005, p. 185.
  6. ^ Burness & Griswold 1982.
  7. ^ Witchell, Alex (22 September 1994). "At Home With: P. L. Travers; Where Starlings Greet the Stars". New York Times. Retrieved 21 November 2013. 
  8. ^ Lawson 2006, p. 290.
  9. ^ Cullinan, Bernice E; Person, Diane Goetz (2005), Encyclopedia of Children's Literature, Continuum, p. 784, ISBN 978-0-82641778-7, retrieved Nov 2012 
  10. ^ Plomley, Roy (21 May 1977). "P L Travers". Desert Island Discs. BBC. 
  11. ^ Shae McDonald (18 December 2013). "PL Travers biographer Valerie Lawson says the real Mary Poppins lived in Woollahra". Wentworth Courier (The Daily Telegraph). Event occurs at 12:30PM. 
  12. ^ Kevin Nance (2013-12-20). "'Mary Poppins, She Wrote' author discusses P.L Travers, 'Saving Mr. Banks'". Chicago Tribune. p. 2. Retrieved 2014-01-12. 
  13. ^ Newman, Melinda (7 November 2013). "‘Poppins’ Author a Pill No Spoonful of Sugar Could Sweeten". Variety. Retrieved 7 November 2013. 
  14. ^ a b http://www.vulture.com/2013/12/saving-mr-banks-pl-travers-fact-check-mary-poppins.html
  15. ^ Ouzounian, Richard (13 December 2013). "P.L. Travers might have liked Mary Poppins onstage". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 6 March 2014. 
  16. ^ Last will and testament
  17. ^ a b Jones, David (25 October 2013). "How the sexual adventuress who created Mary Poppins wrecked the lives of two innocent boys". The Daily Mail (online ed.) (London). Retrieved 25 October 2013. 
  18. ^ Minus, Jodie (10–11 April 2004), There's something about Mary, The Weekend Australian: R6 
  19. ^ Kelleher, Lynne (19 January 2003). "Mary Poppins writer took baby because she 'loved Ireland'; Sugar & spice not so nice for twin separated from brother by author". The Sunday Mirror. London: The Daily Mirror. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  20. ^ "Not Quite All Spoonfuls of Sugar". The New York Times. 5 January 2014. Retrieved 5 January 2014.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  21. ^ "In a most delightful way". The Argus. 14 July 2012. Retrieved 12 December 2013.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P._L._Travers — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
73659 videos foundNext > 

PL Travers The Real Mary Poppins - Part 1 of 6

A documentary about P.L. Travers, Author/Creator of Mary Poppins.

P.L. Travers Audio - 1961 Mary Poppins Meetings at Disney

P.L. Travers reads through the Mary Poppins script with screenwriter Don DaGradi and the Sherman Brothers, the duo behind the film's music. The meetings took...

Emma Thompson: 'PL Travers would have rather looked down upon film' - Saving Mr Banks

Emma Thompson: 'Travers would've rather looked down upon film' - Saving Mr Banks Subscribe to the Guardian HERE: http://bitly.com/UvkFpD The star of Saving M...

Was Mary Poppins real? P. L. Travers and the story behind Saving Mr. Banks

Phone:856-988-1889 Toll Free:(888) 908-ANPI (2674) Website: WWW.ANPInstitute.com Email: CareerServices@ANPInstitute.com This educational video is brought to ...

P.L. Travers Discusses Feed the Birds

P.L. Travers discusses the Mary Poppins song "Feed the Birds" with Richard and Robert Sherman, 1961.

The Secret Life of Mary Poppins: A Culture Show Special

Victoria Coren Mitchell presents a documentary about "Mary Poppins" author P.L Travers's immensely interesting life (both of her parents dying when she was v...

Julie Andrews on meeting P.L. Travers (Author of The Mary Poppins)

Julie Andrews discusses her first phone conversation with P.L. Travers, Saving Mr. Banks, and some Travers and Disney interactions.

Mary Poppins World Premier (1964).

PL Travers The Real Mary Poppins Part 6 of 6

Saving Mr. Banks OST - 13. Mrs. P. L. Travers

Saving Mr. Banks original score by Thomas Newman - Track 13. Mrs. P. L. Travers.

73659 videos foundNext > 

82 news items

Geeks of Doom

Geeks of Doom
Thu, 23 Oct 2014 12:52:30 -0700

As opposed to detailing every single track — there are around 50 to listen to on the first two discs alone — in addition to an additional set of a few dozen meeting excerpt tracks featuring Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers and the Sherman brothers on ...
 
Issaquah Press
Tue, 21 Oct 2014 18:18:45 -0700

Based on the timeless books of P.L. Travers and complete with all the beloved songs from the Academy Award-winning Disney film, “Mary Poppins” tells the tale of the flying nanny. Tickets are available in person at the theater box office, 303 Front St ...

TheaterMania.com

TheaterMania.com
Mon, 20 Oct 2014 08:27:30 -0700

Disney and Cameron Mackintosh's stage musical Mary Poppins is now available for school and amateur licensing exclusively through Music Theatre International. Based on P.L. Travers' original stories and the classic 1964 Walt Disney film Mary Poppins ...
 
Broadway World
Mon, 20 Oct 2014 07:29:11 -0700

School and amateur licensing for Disney and Cameron Mackintosh's hit musical MARY POPPINS is now available exclusively through Music Theatre International (MTI). The stage production is based on P.L. Travers' cherished stories and the classic 1964 ...

Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Tue, 14 Oct 2014 21:01:41 -0700

June 9-21: “Mary Poppins” (original music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, book by Julian Fellowes, new songs and additional music by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe) — The Disney movie musical based on P.L. Travers' book ...

The Daily Telegraph

The Daily Telegraph
Sat, 18 Oct 2014 04:37:30 -0700

Or at least the architect of the perfect nanny, P.L. Travers did, along with her mother and sisters from around 1912 till 1924 when she headed off to London. Interestingly, Travers' version of Mary Poppins was not quite as peppy as Julie Andrews in the ...

WordandFilm.com

WordandFilm.com
Fri, 17 Oct 2014 05:00:00 -0700

The first group, P. L. Travers, Rat Billings, and Peter Van Houten, form the most Philip-esque archetypes we're calling the assholes. Schwarztman narrows in on "Saving Mr. Banks" and Emma Thompson as Travers, the author of Mary Poppins. "Obviously ...
 
Al-Bawaba
Sun, 19 Oct 2014 00:30:00 -0700

Julie Andrews as the iconic Mary Poppins in the Disney production of the child's fantasy book written by P. L. Travers (Courtesy of Facebook). Long-haul travellers rejoice! The trauma (for parents as well as fellow passengers) of crying infants on ...
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