Pamela Lyndon Travers was born Helen Lyndon Goff on August 9, 1899 in Australia. Her poetry was first published when she was a teenager when she began working briefly as a Shakespearean professional actress. Upon emigrating to England, she changed her name to Pamela Lyndon Travers when she was twenty-five in order to act on the stage. In 1933, she started writing the first of eight Mary Poppins novels under the pen name P.L. Travers. Mary Poppins was published in 1934, followed by seven sequels, the last of which was published in 1988.
Travers traveled to New York City during World War II while working for the British Ministry of Information, and it was there that Walt Disney first contacted her about selling the rights to Mary Poppins to Disney Studios for a film adaptation of the novel. After nearly twenty years of contact, which included visits to her home in London, Disney did obtain the rights, resulting in the release of the popular film Mary Poppins in 1964, which pulled elements of the novels Mary Poppins and Mary Poppins Comes Back. Travers famously disliked the adaptation of her novel, from the musical numbers to the added animation, and consequently ruled out any future films. The 2013 film Saving Mr. Banks is based largely on this period of her life.
Travers never married or had any biological children, but instead adopted a baby boy at the age of 40 from Ireland she named Camillus Travers Hone, who was the biological grandson of Joseph Hone, poet W.B. Yeats’ first biographer. He was unaware of his parentage until his twin brother arrived on his doorstep at the age of seventeen. Travers was later appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1977. She died on April 23, 1996 at the age of 96.
Mary Poppins Returns, a sequel to the 1964 Disney film, Mary Poppins, will be released on December 19, 2018. This film will bring to life the magical nanny for a whole new generation of children (and adults).