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 96 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."
©2013 Valerie Lawson (P)2013 Simon & Schuster
I found it painfully slow
I usually enjoy biographical works but this was just hard work
Someone who likes to know minute detail about someone's life together with a fascination with rather strange views on life. I persevered to the end but would never listen to it again. I found many of the characters were of little interest to me.
I also found the narrator's voice to be either grating or very dull.
The mass of detail about everyone P L Travers ever seems to have met. I understand that Pamela left a mass of papers and the biographer was not nearly sufficiently selective.
"Interesting story not helped by narrator"
After seeing the Mr. Banks movie, I was intrigued by PL Travers, so immediately looked for the book the movie is based on. The author appears to have done the best she could with the material available to her, and the book certainly added to my understanding of the complexity of Travers. I was left wanting to know more, so I will continue to research her as well as to read the Mary Poppins books. I did not enjoy the narration of this book, primarily due to the prissy tone taken any time Travers was quoted. Perhaps this was an impersonation - I don't know how she spoke. But to my ears, she was presented as a pouty child no matter her age, while other people who were quoted were not stuck with such irritating voices. Poor Mrs. Travers. I finished the book in spite of the narrator, simply because I was so interested in the story.
"This lady had issues"
Listen to the book as a break from my normal stuff...Saw the movie "Saving Mister Banks" and enjoyed it...wanted to get a little deeper into the story...This book went A Lot Deeper...
"OK, NOW I can see the movie!"
I like to read books before seeing the movie so I was in a hurry to get to this one now that “Saving Mr Banks” is in theatres.
I haven’t read any of the Mary Poppins books, in fact I never gave the source of the 60s movie much thought. I am one of those people that instinctively link Mary Poppins and Julie Andrews and I know of no other version.
I also wanted to read this biography because it occurred to me that if Disney puts out a movie of the making of a Disney movie, it’s going to be told with a very specific slant and I wanted to get a better picture of the whole. P. L. Travers’ life makes for interesting reading, but I can’t say we have much in common so overall I felt: “ok fine, now I know”.
I liked the segment on the making of the movie the best which tells me I’ll probably enjoy “Saving Mr Banks” very much… we’ll see!
"Interesting Story, Poorly Written"
People who might enjoy this book are those who want to experience P.L. Traverse early writing. It was terrible though, and the biography author shares far too much of it!
Listened to Disney Wars by James B Stewart. It was excellent!
Terry Donnelly's narration was very good. If I had been reading the book, I wouldn't have lasted as long.
P.L. Traverse early writing!
Skip this book! There are far too many good ones to spend time on this one!
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