Author P.L. Travers earned a permanent place in most of our childhoods with her beloved character Mary Poppins, but the story of her own life is in many ways just as mysterious and surprising as that of her fictional nanny.
Author P.L. Travers earned a permanent place in most of our childhoods with her beloved character Mary Poppins, but the story of her own life is in many ways just as mysterious and surprising as that of her fictional nanny. The upcoming film Saving Mr. Banks tells the story of the unlikely collaboration between Travers and Walt Disney (played respectively by Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks, pictured below) as they adapted her book for the big screen. The film gives us a glimpse at some of the author's backstory and eccentricities, but there are also many compelling details and anecdotes about her unique life and unforgettable work that didn't make it into the movie. Read on for more about the woman behind Mary Poppins.
It took Disney 20 years to talk Travers into the Mary Poppins movie
As Saving Mr. Banks illustrates, Disney spent years courting Travers via letters and calls, hoping to fulfill a promise he made to his two daughters to bring their beloved Mary Poppins to the big screen. His bid to convince Travers he would do Mary justice took nearly two decades. Travers was a tough costumer, but eventually caved to Disney's pleas, flying to Los Angeles for two weeks to work on the script at the studio and eventually signing over the rights.
She's thought to have had relationships with men and women
For a woman in 1920s and '30s England, Travers had an atypically open attitude toward sex and love. She struck up an affair with a much older married man when she was in her 20s, and a few years later lived with a woman, Madge Burnand, for a full decade. Travers stayed tight-lipped on the nature of their relationship, but many historians believe that their "intense" bond may have been romantic; a recent biographer recovered a topless photo of Travers lounging on the beach that is believed to have been taken by Burnand.