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P. L.

Pamela Lyndon Travers, appearing in
the role of Titania in A Midsummer
Night's Dream
Born Helen Lyndon Go
9 August 1899
Queensland, Australia
Died 23 April 1996 (aged 96)
London, England, United
St Mary the Virgin's
Church, Twickenham,
England, United Kingdom
Occupation Writer, actress, journalist
Nationality Australian
Citizenship Australian, British
Genres Children's literature
P. L. Travers
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pamela Lyndon Travers, OBE (born
Helen Lyndon Go; 9 August 1899 23
April 1996), was an Australian-British
novelist, actress and journalist.
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 rst contacted her
about selling the Mary Poppins character
to the Disney studio for lm use.
For services to literature, Travers was
made an Ocer of the Order of the British
Empire by Elizabeth II in 1977. Her
popular books have been adapted many
times, including the 1964 lm starring
Julie Andrews and the Broadway musical
originally produced in London's West End.
1 Early life
2 Career
3 Mary Poppins
3.1 Disney version
4 Personal life
5 Works
5.1 Books
5.2 Collections
5.3 Non-ction
6 References
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Mary Poppins book series
Children Camillus Travers Hone
(adopted son)
7 Bibliography
8 External links
Early life
Helen Lyndon Go (she was known within her family as Lyndon) was born in
Maryborough, Queensland, Australia, the daughter of an unsuccessful bank
manager (later demoted to bank clerk) named Travers Robert Go, who was of
Irish background, but born in Deptford, south London, England.
Her mother
was Margaret Agnes, ne Morehead, the niece of Boyd Dunlop Morehead, who
was Premier of Queensland from 1888 to 1890. Travers Go's job took the family
to Allora, Queensland in 1905, where he died of inuenza two years later, aged
43, after a long battle with alcoholism. Following this, Lyndon Go and her
mother and sisters moved to Bowral, New South Wales in 1907, and lived there
until 1917.
She boarded at Normanhurst Girls School in Asheld, Sydney,
during World War I.
Lyndon Go 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.
1931, she moved out of a rented at in London that she shared with her friend
Madge Burnand, and the two set up home together in a thatched Sussex
It was here, in the winter of 1933, that she began to write Mary
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' rst publisher was Peter Llewelyn Davies, Barrie's
adopted son and widely regarded as the model for Peter Pan.
While in Ireland in 1925, Travers met the poet George William Russell (who wrote
under the name "") 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 Gurdjie System under Jane Heap and in
March 1936, with the help of Jessie Orage (widow of Alfred Richard Orage), she
met the mystic George Gurdjie, who would have a great eect on her, as well as
P. L. Travers - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=P._L._T...
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on several other literary gures.
At the invitation of her friend, US Commissioner of Indian Aairs John Collier,
Travers spent two summers living among the Navajo, Hopi and Pueblo peoples
studying their mythology and folklore.
After the war, she became Writer-
in-Residence at Radclie College and Smith College.
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-ction.
Mary Poppins
Published in London in 1934, Mary Poppins was Travers' rst literary success.
Sequels followed (the last in 1988).
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.
great aunt, Helen Morehead, who lived in Woollahra, Sydney and used to say,
'Spit spot, into bed' is a likely inspiration for the character.
Disney version
The Disney musical adaptation was released in 1964. Primarily based on the rst
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
At the lm's star-studded premire (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.
Disney responded
by walking away, saying as he did, "Pamela, the ship has sailed."
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,
P. L. Travers - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=P._L._T...
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she acquiesced on the condition that only English-born writers and no one from
the lm production were to be directly involved with creating the stage
This specically excluded the Sherman Brothers from writing
additional songs for the production. However, original songs and other aspects
from the 1964 lm were allowed to be incorporated into the production. Contrary
to popular belief these points were not stipulated in her last will and
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
Though Travers had numerous eeting 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 at from 1927 to 1934, then moved to a thatched cottage in Sussex,
where Travers published the rst 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.
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' rst 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, after
arguing with Travers, went looking for his brother and found him in a pub on
Kings Road.
Travers was made an Ocer 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."
Her son Camillus died in London in November 2011.
P. L. Travers - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=P._L._T...
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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, New York: Delacorte Press, 1989
Stories from Mary Poppins (1952)
Moscow Excursion, New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1934
About the Sleeping Beauty, London: Collins, 1975
What the Bee Knows: Reections on Myth, Symbol and Story (1989)
George Ivanovitch Gurdjie
P. L. Travers - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=P._L._T...
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^ PL Travers (British author)
Encyclopedia Britannica.
a b c d
Picardie, Justine (28 October
2008). "Was P L Travers the real Mary
Poppins?" (http://www.telegraph.co.uk
The Daily Telegraph (London).
Retrieved 25 November 2010.
^ Lawson 1999. 3.
^ "P. L. Travers"
P-L.html), Notable biographies
^ Lawson 2005, p. 185. 5.
^ Burness & Griswold 1982. 6.
^ Witchell, Alex (22 September 1994).
"At Home With: P. L. Travers; Where
Starlings Greet the Stars"
src=pm). New York Times. Retrieved
21 November 2013.
^ Lawson 2006, p. 290. 8.
^ Cullinan, Bernice E; Person, Diane
Goetz (2005), Encyclopedia of
Children's Literature
pg=PA784), Continuum, p. 784,
ISBN 978-0-82641778-7, retrieved Nov
^ Plomley, Roy (21 May 1977). "P L
Travers" (http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4
/8f6bfcfc). Desert Island Discs. BBC.
^ 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.
^ Kevin Nance (2013-12-20). " 'Mary
Poppins, She Wrote' author discusses
P.L Travers, 'Saving Mr. Banks' "
p-l-travers/2). Chicago Tribune. p. 2.
Retrieved 2014-01-12.
^ Newman, Melinda (7 November
2013). "Poppins Author a Pill No
Spoonful of Sugar Could Sweeten"
Variety. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
a b
P. L. Travers - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=P._L._T...
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^ Ouzounian, Richard (13 December
2013). "P.L. Travers might have liked
Mary Poppins onstage"
poppins_onstage.html). The Toronto
Star. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
^ Last will and testament 16.
a b
Jones, David (25 October 2013).
"How the sexual adventuress who
created Mary Poppins wrecked the
lives of two innocent boys"
lives-innocent-boys.html). The Daily
Mail (online ed.) (London). Retrieved
25 October 2013.
^ Minus, Jodie (1011 April 2004),
"There's something about Mary", The
Weekend Australian: R6
^ 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"
SUGAR+AND...-a096602627). The
Sunday Mirror. London: The Daily
Mirror. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
^ "Not Quite All Spoonfuls of Sugar"
mr-banks.html). The New York Times.
5 January 2014. Retrieved 5 January
^ "In a most delightful way"
The Argus. 14 July 2012. Retrieved 12
December 2013.
Brody, Paul (2013). The Real Life Mary Poppins: The Life and Times of P. L.
Travers. CreateSpace (published 20 February 2013). ISBN 978-1482075038.
Burness, Edwina; Griswold, Jerry (Winter 1982). "P. L. Travers, The Art of
Fiction" (http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/3099/the-art-of-ction-
no-63-p-l-travers). The Paris Review (63).
Demers, Patricia (1991). P.L. Travers. Twayne Publishers.
ISBN 978-0805770056.
Dooling Draper, Ellen; Koralek, Jenny, eds. (1999). A Lively Oracle: a
Centennial Celebration of P. L. Travers, Creator of Mary Poppins
P. L. Travers - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=P._L._T...
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(http://www.larsonpublications.org/catalog/lively-oracle). New York: Larson
Lawson, Valerie (1999). Out of the Sky She Came: The Life of P.L. Travers,
Creator of Mary Poppins. ISBN 0-7336-1072-2.
(2005). Mary Poppins She Wrote. Aurum Press. ISBN 1-84513-126-6.
(2006), Mary Poppins, She Wrote: The Life of P. L. Travers, Simon &
Schuster, p. 290, ISBN 978-0743298162.
External links
P. L. Travers (http://www.ndagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&
GRid=27842116) at Find a Grave
Travers, PL (197071), "Gurdjie" (http://www.gurdjie.org/travers1.htm),
Man, Myth and Magic: Encyclopedia of the Supernatural, London: Purnell,
12 vol., reprinted on the International Gurdjie Review
"Papers of P. L. Travers" (http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/mssguide/ptravers.pdf)
(PDF), Finding aid, New South Wales: State Library.
Flanagan, Caitlin (12 December 2005), "Becoming Mary Poppins: P. L.
Travers, Walt Disney, and the making of a myth" (http://www.newyorker.com
/archive/2005/12/19/051219fa_fact1?currentPage=all), The New Yorker.
Lawson, Valerie (February 2006), "Secret Life of a Letter to the Editor"
(http://www.cjr.org/issues/2006/1/lettertoeditor.asp), Columbia Journalism
Bostridge, Mark, "Hail Mary" (http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-
entertainment/books/features/hail-mary-547034.html), The independent
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=P._L._Travers&
Categories: 1899 births 1996 deaths British children's writers
British fantasy writers English women novelists English women poets
Ocers of the Order of the British Empire
People from Maryborough, Queensland Writers from London
Writers from Queensland Mary Poppins 20th-century British novelists
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20th-century women writers Australian children's writers
Australian fantasy writers Australian women novelists
20th-century Australian novelists Australian stage actresses
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