Mary Poppins, She Wrote: The Life of P. L. Travers

By Valerie Lawson

The outstanding lifetime of P.L. Travers, the author of Mary Poppins.

An arresting life…Lawson is great at excavating the main points. –Library Journal

The spellbinding tales of Mary Poppins, the quintessentially English and totally magical nanny, were enjoyed via generations. She flew into the lives of the unsuspecting Banks family members in a children’s publication that used to be immediately hailed as a vintage, then turned a loved ones identify while Julie Andrews stepped into the identify function in Walt Disney’s highly profitable and both vintage movie. however the Mary Poppins within the tales was once now not the cheery movie personality. She was once tart and sharp, undeniable and useless. She was once a awesome character.

The tale of Mary Poppins’ author, as this definitive biography unearths, is both striking. The remarkable English nanny was once truly conceived by way of an Australian, Pamela Lyndon Travers, who got here to London in 1924 from Queensland as a journalist. She turned concerned with Theosophy, traveled within the literary circles of W.B. Yeats and T.S. Eliot, and have become a disciple of the famed non secular guru, Gurdjieff. She famously clashed with Walt Disney over the difference of the Mary Poppins books into movie. Travers, whom Disney accused of self-importance for “thinking you recognize extra approximately Mary Poppins than I do,” used to be as tart and opinionated as Julie Andrews’s big-screen Mary Poppins was once cheery. but it used to be a love of mysticism and magic that formed Travers’s existence in addition to the nature of Mary Poppins. The clipped, strict, and eventually mysterious nanny who emerged from her pen used to be the production of somebody who remained inscrutable and enigmatic to the top of her ninety-six years.

Valerie Lawson’s illuminating biography offers the 1st complete glance whose own trip is as exciting as her loved characters.

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Joseph Hone knew somebody who could take them off his hands—Pamela Travers, AE’s shut buddy and Macnamara’s cast-off. Nat’s sister Sally Hone, then 25, recalls the scene whilst Pamela referred to as. the newborn boys, Camillus and Anthony, lay in separate adult-sized beds in a visitor room. Camillus used to be far better having a look. Pamela gazed down on every one. Joseph stated to Pamela: ‘Take , they're basically small. ’ Biddy additionally attempted to orchestrate the alternative. ‘You are looking to have Anthony, he's a beautiful boy. ’ Camillus used to be crying. Anthony used to be no longer. sixteen On October 28, Jessie wrote in her diary ‘P. rang up from Dublin at 12. She is coming again Tuesday with out the child. She didn’t like him sufficient. ’ A fortnight later, Pamela confided in Jessie. She beloved Camillus even more than his dual, the newborn she was once presupposed to take. simply to verify, Pamela had either infants’ horoscopes ready by means of an astrologer, an Edward Johndro of Fresno, California. The astrological chart for Camillus concluded: ‘All in all, it'd be an extraordinary factor to discover larger pass rays among a baby and its personal mom. So i'd say, via all ability, undertake HIM. ’ Little Anthony was once now dispatched to Biddy’s mom and Camillus made the crossing to England, with Pamela, in mid-December 1939. From then on, Pamela wore a marriage ring, an easy gold band signifying respectability. 5 days ahead of Christmas, ‘P. had undesirable evening as Camillus screamed forever. ’ The general practitioner got here, yet ‘she now talks of sending him to a infants’ domestic in Tunbridge Wells. ’ Jessie instructed Pamela it'd be a mistake to ship Camillus away as he’d quiet down quickly. On Boxing Day, even though, he yelled continually. Jessie recorded in her diary: ‘Poor Pam. P. requested my recommendation approximately sending him to TW to get his feeding correct and feature the rash on his face taken care of. P packing for Camillus. ’ a number of months earlier than Camillus moved to Pound Cottage, younger evacuees from London had all started to reach in Mayfield, whole with their little nutrients kits of corned pork tins and condensed milk. Pamela heard them whinge of the ’orrible calm down there. The condensed milk stood unopened on larder cabinets, for, on the finish of the yr, it appeared the warfare was once not likely to reach. On Christmas Day, Mayfield tucked into the standard Norfolk chickens and Stiltons. The weeks of the phoney struggle handed. whereas the locals blew the foam off their pints within the public bar, stating there will be no genuine struggle, the most highway was once blacked out at evening. That was once effective. The locals consistently went domestic at the hours of darkness besides. New rabbit weapons will be visible within the saddler’s window. The petrol boy from the storage was once in uniform and everybody attempted on his metal helmet. all of them had gasoline mask too. via early 1940 Mayfield’s secure retired significant, a gradual soul who had canvassed the village looking for the conservative vote, was once appointed leader warden. carrying new trousers, he ordered the villagers to black out these damned home windows, instantly. on a daily basis, the younger males disappeared from the streets and outlets and homes. Pamela observed that the ironmonger’s boy and the lad who drove the milk lorry had long gone, ‘as leaves drop from a tree’.

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