Book Reviews & Essays on Literature

Mary Poppins, by P.L. Travers

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mary poppinsMary Poppins by P.L. Travers, 1934 & “Saving Mr. Banks”, 2013

The Mary Poppins books are not altogether sweet and cuddly, and neither was P.L. Travers. Both books and author were products of their times. The film Saving Mr. Banks is about the production of the 1964 Walt Disney Studios film version of the first Mary Poppins book, by the same name, and stars Emma Thompson (she of Nanny McPhee, talk about typecasting!) and Tom Hanks. The film centres on the life of Travers, shifting between 1907 with her childhood in Queensland, Australia, the 1961 negotiations with Walt Disney, and the subsequent making of Mary Poppins, starring Julie Andrews as the umbrella-wielding Nanny and Dick van Dyke (he of the mock Cockney accent) as the chimney-sweep, Bert. With its romanticized view of a middle-class family in 1910 London, UK, Mary Poppins is classic Christmas movie and TV fodder, along with The Sound of Music, Peter Pan, The Railway Children and other children’s favourites. But, there has always been a largely unacknowledged darker side to all these books. They all feature a missing, or withholding, parent or caregiver. (Continue reading…)

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