Valerie Lawson: Mary Poppins, She Wrote
The story of Mary Poppins, the quintessentially English and utterly magical children’s nanny, is remarkable enough. She flew into the lives of the Banks family in a children’s book that is now hailed as a classic, then became a household name when Julie Andrews stepped into the starring role in Disney’s hugely successful film. Now she is a musical sensation all over again in ‘Mary Poppins’, the musical. But the story of Mary Poppins’s creator is just as unexpected and outstanding.
The fabulous nanny was conceived by an Australian, Pamela Lyndon Travers, who in 1924 left Sydney for London, where her career as a writer blossomed.
She travelled in the elite literary circles of the time and, most famously, clashed with Walt Disney over the adaptation of her books into film. Disney accused her of vanity for ‘thinking you know more about Mary Poppins than I do’. This struggle formed the center of the recent movie “Saving Mister Banks”, starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson.
Like her mysterious character, Travers remained inscrutable and enigmatic to the end of her ninety-six remarkable years. Valerie Lawson’s illuminating biography provides the only glimpse into the mind of a writer who fervently believed that ‘Everyday life is the miracle’.