Mary Poppins, She Wrote

Mary Poppins, She Wrote

The Life of P.L. Travers

Book - 2006 | 1st Simon & Schuster ed.
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The remarkable life of P.L. Travers, the creator of Mary Poppins.

An arresting life...Lawson is superb at excavating the details. - Library Journal

The spellbinding stories of Mary Poppins, the quintessentially English and utterly magical nanny, have been loved by generations. She flew into the lives of the unsuspecting Banks family in a children's book that was instantly hailed as a classic, then became a household name when Julie Andrews stepped into the title role in Walt Disney's hugely successful and equally classic film. But the Mary Poppins in the stories was not the cheery film character. She was tart and sharp, plain and vain. She was a remarkable character.

The story of Mary Poppins' creator, as this definitive biography reveals, is equally remarkable. The fabulous English nanny was actually conceived by an Australian, Pamela Lyndon Travers, who came to London in 1924 from Queensland as a journalist. She became involved with Theosophy, traveled in the literary circles of W.B. Yeats and T.S. Eliot, and became a disciple of the famed spiritual guru, Gurdjieff. She famously clashed with Walt Disney over the adaptation of the Mary Poppins books into film. Travers, whom Disney accused of vanity for "thinking you know more about Mary Poppins than I do," was as tart and opinionated as Julie Andrews's big-screen Mary Poppins was cheery. Yet it was a love of mysticism and magic that shaped Travers's life as well as the character of Mary Poppins. The clipped, strict, and ultimately mysterious nanny who emerged from her pen was the creation of someone who remained inscrutable and enigmatic to the end of her ninety-six years.

Valerie Lawson's illuminating biography provides the first full look whose personal journey is as intriguing as her beloved characters.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, 2006.
Edition: 1st Simon & Schuster ed.
ISBN: 9781476762920
9780743298162
0743298160
Branch Call Number: BIO TRAVERS LAWSON
Characteristics: x, 401 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. ; 25 cm.

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cowsonthefarm
Nov 08, 2014

A very flowery writing style totally undermined my enjoyment of this book. A lot of unnecessary poetic descriptions that really added nothing. I could not wait to finish it so I could move on. Its too bad because P.L. Travers' biography would have been very interesting on its own. Go see the movie instead.

martins_mom Apr 17, 2014

Apparently Travers was not a nice little lady sitting in her comfy study writing charming books for children. In fact she denied that she wrote "for children" at all. An interesting and surprising study of a complex personality.

ontherideau Dec 30, 2013

As a child I gave no thought to the creator of Mary Poppins because of course it had to be Walt Disney.
The story of P.L.Travers, a woman whose name itself is a myth and who was influenced by Yeats and Eliot explains a lot. I know I will watch Mary Poppins again, now it will be with a different appreciation.

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GailRoger
Feb 18, 2011

I had to rush through the final third of this one because someone had put a hold on it. I grew up with PL Travers' Mary Poppins books, having been brought to them by the Disney film.

Mary Poppins is, of course, only a tiny part of the life of this complex and sometimes prickly woman: an Australian who thought of herself as English (and Anglo-Irish), a young actor and poet who counted WB Yeats among her mentors, and a seeker of exotic philosophies.

The title is clunky, but the book itself is well-researched and ably written.

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