Pamela Travers was the inspiration behind Mary Poppins. However, Pamela spent decades hiding her true origins. However, it was her childhood that holds the key to the secret of Mary Poppins. She clashed frequently with Walt Disney while working on Mary Poppins. Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson talk about Pamela in this documentary. This documentary tells the story of Pamela Travers and the story of Mary Poppins.
Pamela Travers was born in Australia as Helen Goff. Her friends never learned her real name until the end of her life. She adopted Pamela as a stage name. Eventually, she called herself P.L. Travers and called herself Mrs. Travers even though she never married. She died in 1996 and the legends started swirling around her. The truth was that she was the daughter of a drifter, who made his way to Australia. Her father loved Ireland and Irish things.
She never spoke of her past life before and her close friends never had any idea of her past. Pamela grew up in Queensland, Australia. Her parents were hot and cold and Pamela never knew where she stood with her parents. It was only in her later years she would tell stories of her Australian childhood. The reality she endured in Australia was far from the Banks family. Her father struggled with heavy drinking and died at home from pneumonia when Pamela was seven years old. It shook Pamela.
Her father’s death set her off on a search for a father figure. What could a man be? Who could measure up to her father’s memories? The one thing her father did pass onto Pamela was a love of Irish writers. She loved exploring the myths and folklore of Ireland. Australia never felt like home. She had a romantic view of the Irish culture and when she was twenty-four she went to Dublin. She paid for her voyage with money she made from magazine articles and help from her aunt. She would whitewash her homeland out of her life.
When she arrived in Ireland, she began a friendship with George A.E. Russell. He inspired her to write and may have had a hand in creating Mary Poppins. Pamela would send her writing to him and he helped nurture her writing talent. They became good friends and was father figure for her. Pamela became part of the writing social set. She traveled as well. She wrote and published and sent money home to her mother in Australia.
Pamela eventually moved to the countryside and started writing fiction. Her imagination could be let loose. It was in the countryside where Mary Poppins was born. The book was a success and she started writing the next book in the series. For the rest of her life, she would say that she was not the creator of Mary Poppins, but that she was a vessel. She denied that she created Mary Poppins. The characters were inspired by her childhood in Australia and her search for security.
However, her life was far from secure. Pamela traveled around and dealt with many demons. She longed for someone to share her life with. She wanted to have children. Pamela was a charming lady and could flirt. A potential love was an Irish Poet, however, he was a serial adulterer. He was an attractive man and loved the whiskey. He was unsuitable for Travers. Instead of marriage, she looked to adopt a child.
To continue to learn more about Pamela Travers and Mary Poppins continue to watch this documentary.
This would be a good documentary to show in an English Class for middle and high school. If students are researching P.L. Travers they could use this documentary for research.
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