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

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

by Valerie Lawson

Simon & Schuster | May 5, 2008 | Trade Paperback |

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The story of Mary Poppins, the quintessentially English and utterly magical children''s nanny, is remarkable enough. 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 starring role in Walt Disney''s hugely successful and equally classic film. Now she is a Broadway sensation all over again.

But the story of Mary Poppins''s creator, as this first biography reveals, is just as unexpected and remarkable. The fabulous English nanny was conceived by an Australian, Pamela Lyndon Travers, who in 1924 came to London from Sydney as a journalist. She became involved with theosophy and traveled in the literary circles of W. B. Yeats and T. S. Eliot. Most famously, she clashed with "the great convincer" Walt Disney over the adaptation of the Mary Poppins books into film.

Travers, whom Disney accused of vanity for "thinking you [Travers] know more about Mary Poppins than I do," was as tart and opinionated as Julie Andrews''s big-screen Mary Poppins was cheery and porcelain beautiful. "You''ve got the nose for it," Travers candidly assessed the star. Yet it was a love of mysticism and magic that shaped P. L. Travers''s life as well as the character of Mary Poppins. The clipped, strict and ultimately mysterious nanny was the conception of someone who remained thoroughly inscrutable and enigmatic to the end of her ninety-six years.

"Who is P. L. Travers?" the American press inquired of "this unknown Englishwoman" whose creation resulting in Hollywood gold had won her international fame. Valerie Lawson''s illuminating biography, Mary Poppins, She Wrote, provides the first and only glimpse into the mind of a writer who fervently believed that "Everyday life is the miracle."

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 416 Pages, 5.91 × 9.06 × 0.79 in

Published: May 5, 2008

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0743299507

ISBN - 13: 9780743299503

Found in: Biography and Memoir

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

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

by Valerie Lawson

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 416 Pages, 5.91 × 9.06 × 0.79 in

Published: May 5, 2008

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0743299507

ISBN - 13: 9780743299503

Read from the Book

13 The Americanization of Mary She called it "uneasy wedlock." Walt Disney and Pamela Travers danced around each other -- he the great convincer, she the reluctant bride -- then, after the slow courtship, came the quick consummation and a lingering cool down. The result of their five years locked in this awkward embrace was Disney''s greatest film of the 1960s, a movie about American values and family reconciliation. Made in America in 1963, Walt Disney''s Mary Poppins was released the following year, when Lyndon Baines Johnson promised to heal a fractured nation with his concept of the "Great Society." Created by Disney, a fervent anticommunist and family man who stood four square for the American way, the movie Mary Poppins was only loosely based on Pamela''s original books of Mary Poppins adventures. Disney seized upon the fantasy world of the books but eliminated their mystery. He made a film of no ambivalence, no depth, and very little sadness. But then his aim was not to mystify and challenge, but to show how peace was restored to a family in strife. His happy family and jolly songs helped cheer middle America. Few in the movie audiences knew the name P. L. Travers, which appeared in small type in the opening credits. And certainly no one knew or cared how Mary Poppins arose. Later, many interviewers quizzed this unknown P. L. Travers to try to discover what inspired the nanny. Only a few suspected that she was born from a need in Pamela, whose own childhood had been ou
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Table of Contents

Contents

List of Illustrations

Preface

Part I: The Nymph, 1899-1934

Prologue: The Moment Between Day and Dark

Chapter 1: The Real Mr. Banks

Chapter 2: Ellie and Allora

Chapter 3: Old England in Australia

Chapter 4: The Creation of Pamela

Chapter 5: Falling into Ireland

Chapter 6: Lovers, Gurus and the Glimmering Girl

Part II: The Mother, 1934-1965

Prologue: Out of the Sky

Chapter 7: Poppins and Pamela in Wonderland

Chapter 8: A Beautiful Night for a Death

Chapter 9: The Crossing of Camillus

Chapter 10: Through the Door to Mabeltown

Chapter 11: Monsieur Bon Bon Says Au Revoir

Chapter 12: Shadowplay

Chapter 13: The Americanization of Mary

Part III: The Crone, 1965-1996

Prologue: An Old Woman in a Rocking Chair

Chapter 14: A Crone among the Sleeping Beauties

Chapter 15: Looking for Pamela Travers

Chapter 16: Fear No More the Heat of the Sun

Notes

Bibliography

Published Books by P. L. Travers

Acknowledgments

Index

Illustration Sources

From the Publisher

The story of Mary Poppins, the quintessentially English and utterly magical children''s nanny, is remarkable enough. 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 starring role in Walt Disney''s hugely successful and equally classic film. Now she is a Broadway sensation all over again.

But the story of Mary Poppins''s creator, as this first biography reveals, is just as unexpected and remarkable. The fabulous English nanny was conceived by an Australian, Pamela Lyndon Travers, who in 1924 came to London from Sydney as a journalist. She became involved with theosophy and traveled in the literary circles of W. B. Yeats and T. S. Eliot. Most famously, she clashed with "the great convincer" Walt Disney over the adaptation of the Mary Poppins books into film.

Travers, whom Disney accused of vanity for "thinking you [Travers] know more about Mary Poppins than I do," was as tart and opinionated as Julie Andrews''s big-screen Mary Poppins was cheery and porcelain beautiful. "You''ve got the nose for it," Travers candidly assessed the star. Yet it was a love of mysticism and magic that shaped P. L. Travers''s life as well as the character of Mary Poppins. The clipped, strict and ultimately mysterious nanny was the conception of someone who remained thoroughly inscrutable and enigmatic to the end of her ninety-six years.

"Who is P. L. Travers?" the American press inquired of "this unknown Englishwoman" whose creation resulting in Hollywood gold had won her international fame. Valerie Lawson''s illuminating biography, Mary Poppins, She Wrote, provides the first and only glimpse into the mind of a writer who fervently believed that "Everyday life is the miracle."
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