P.L. Travers & Mary Poppins

Pamela Lyndon Travers, creator of the “Mary Poppins” series, was born Helen Lyndon Goff on 9 August 1899 in Australia.

When she emigrated to England in 1924, she began to regularly use the name P.L. Travers, already employed in her days as a dancer and Shakespearean actor on the Australian stage. It is said that her wealthy relatives did not approve of her performances, so, being independent-minded, she moved to England where she forged a career as a writer.
The pseudonym P. L. Travers appealed to Goff because it sounded more masculine – or at least, not gender specific: Travers was taken from her father’s name and Pamela because she thought it was a “pretty” name that “flowed” with Travers.

Mary Poppins first appeared in a 1926 short story and later her adventures were expanded to become a novel published in 1934, followed by seven sequels, the last of which was published in 1988.

“Nothing I had written before ‘Mary Poppins’ had anything to do with children, and I have always assumed, when I thought about it at all, that she had come out of the same wall of nothingness as the poetry, myth and legend that had absorbed me all my writing life.”

Mary Poppins is both a joy and a curse to me as a writer … As a writer, you can feel awfully imprisoned, because people, having had so much of one thing, want you always to go on doing more of the same.”

“A writer is, after all, only half his book. The other half is the reader and from the reader the writer learns.”

Pamela Lyndon Travers, pseudonimo di Helen Lyndon Goff, nacque il 9 agosto 1899 in Australia . E’ famosa come l’autrice della serie di storie di “Mary Poppins”.
Quando emigrò in Inghilterra nel 1924, cominciò a usare regolarmente il nome P.L. Travers, già impiegata ai suoi tempi come ballerina e attrice shakespeariana nei teatri australiani. Si dice infatti che i suoi ricchi parenti non approvassero le sue esibizioni , quindi, essendo di mentalità indipendente, si trasferì in Inghilterra dove divenne famosa come scrittrice.
Lo pseudonimo P. L. Travers piaceva alla Goff perché suonava più maschile – o almeno, non specifico per genere: Travers fu preso dal nome di suo padre e Pamela perché pensava che fosse un nome “carino” che “fluiva” con Travers.

Mary Poppins apparve per la prima volta in un racconto del 1926 e successivamente le sue avventure vennero ampliate diventando un romanzo pubblicato nel 1934, seguito da altri sette, l’ultimo dei quali apparve nel 1988.

Niente di ciò che avevo scritto prima di “Mary Poppins” aveva a che fare con i bambini, e ho sempre supposto , quando ci pensavo, che fosse uscita dallo stesso muro del nulla come la poesia, il mito e la leggenda che mi avevano assorbito per tutta la mia vita di scrittrice.”

Mary Poppins è sia una gioia che una maledizione per me come scrittrice … Come scrittrice, ti senti terribilmente imprigionata, perché le persone, avendo avuto così tanto di qualcosa, vogliono che tu continui sempre a fare più o meno la stessa cosa.” –

“Uno scrittore, dopotutto, è solo metà del suo libro. L’altra metà è il lettore ed è dal lettore che lo scrittore impara.”

Image: Wikimedia Commons – Portrait of P. L. Travers, 1924, pictured as Titania in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

63 thoughts on “P.L. Travers & Mary Poppins

  1. Very very interesting article on author PL Travers and her famous creation Mary Poppins. I love the articles on poets and authors from across the world. It inspires me so much to pursue writing. I don’t think I will ever be able to miss a single blog of yours. Awesome, outstanding, really informative. Excellent, dear Luisa. ♥️♥️♥️🥰

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  2. P.L. Travers has rightly held that ‘ A writer is , after all , only half his book . The other half is the reader and from the reader the writer learns .’ It is the fact that from the reader , the writer learns a lot . And about P.L. Travers , it can be seen in her Novels from 1934 to 1988 (altogether eight) . Reader virtually creates a writer . And his/her writing comes out of the womb of reader and writer is only instrumental in his/her creation . P.L. Travers was right in her above mentioned statement to a considerable extent . Thanks !

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  3. Another very interesting article Luisa. Women writers in history are inspirational, they faced such judgement for their gender – whereas today we don’t even think about it – mainly because all these great female writers of the past have shown that gender in a writer is not a factor in whether their eventual creation is worthy of acclaim.

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  4. “A writer is, after all, only half his book. The other half is the reader and from the reader the writer learns.”. I’d never thought of it like that before, but it’s a fantastic observation from somebody who must have been humble as well as gifted.

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  5. Wow, we learn so much from you Luisa! Another brilliant article. Thank you for sharing this and all the little gems you’ve included within, things I never knew and wouldn’t if it wasn’t for you. Love and light, Deborah

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  6. Da piccola ho adorato Mary Poppins e s3 dovessi rivederlo o rileggerl9 anche adesso non sarebbe da meno. Credo abbia ragione che spesso accade che un autore si senta imprigionato dal personaggio che ha creato e questo accadde da quel che so anche agli attori che interpretano un personaggio ben specifico di una certa fiction. Buon pomeriggio cara Luisa un abbraccio 🥰

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