Thursday, 16 June 2011

MARY POPPINS AND THE SEA-CHANGE

Having recently written on this blog about P L Travers, I decided to revisit my 'archive' (one of many cardboard boxes!) and found a couple of items that may be of interest to Disneyphiles and Poppinsites.

My correspondence with P L Travers began in 1972 when I was writing Disneydust, a never-published biography of Walt Disney.

I had been working on this book in my spare time (I was then an employee of a finance company) for four years, inspired to redress what I saw as the skewed portrait of Walt in Richard Schickel's The Disney Version.

Considering I was on the wrong side of the Atlantic, I achieved quite a lot original research and contacted a number of veteran Disney artists and employees, several of whom would later become longstanding friends.

Being something of a bibliophile, I also wrote to the authors of some of the books that had been made into films by the Disney studio, including Dodie Smith, Mary Norton, Margery Sharp –– and P L Travers, from whom I received the following letter...

P L Travers - Letter 1972


Over the years, there has been much quoted comment about what was Pamela Travers' view of the the film. Here is how she expressed it in 1972...


P L Travers'  1972 statement on Disney 'Mary Poppins' film (1)

P L Travers'  1972 statement on Disney 'Mary Poppins' film (2)

Following her request, the statement was included in Disneydust in its entirety and Pamela read the chapter on the making of Mary Poppins and annotated it – extensively! As I have said, Disneydust never saw the light of day: abandoned by the publisher despite having advertised it in his catalogue of forthcoming titles – without my having a contract.

Fifteen years passed and I found myself working with Richard Holliss on The Disney Studio Story, for which I did have a contract! I wrote to Pamela asking if I could use her original statement in the forthcoming book. This is how she responded...

P L Travers - Letter 1987

P L Travers - Letter 1987 (Envelope)

Well, obviously, I was "minded to talk about the matter" and made the call that led to that first visit I have already described on this blog.

Part of Pamela's original statement eventually appeared in The Disney Studio Story (although heavily truncated since one-third of the text was lost in the edit) and my visits to 29 Shawfield Street continued and became more frequent until the day came when the subject of "another film" came up.

But that is a subject for another post...

11 comments:

Clement of the Glen said...

A few weeks ago I asked the question, 'What did P.L. Travers think of the movie Mary Poppins?'

I am so pleased I did!!!

scb said...

Fascinating stuff, Brian! Thank you.

Brian Sibley said...

Thanks, Folks, but this isn't quie the end of the story...

Steven Hartley said...

So, this is basically a Mary Poppins blog topic at the moment?

Brian Sibley said...

You are perfectly at liberty NOT to read it! :)

Rob said...

Fascinating! Thanks a lot for posting!

Brian Sibley said...

Pleasure! :)

Unknown said...

Do you know if Walt really flew to England to convince Travers to sign the document giving away the rights of the book to Walt?

Brian Sibley said...

Dear Unknown: Walt certainly visited PLT in London, but not at the point depicted in SMB. He visited her BEFORE her trip to the Hollywood, not afterwards and I very much doubt that they ever discussed their respective fathers!! ;)

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for the feedback!

Brian Sibley said...

You're welcome. The truth is important...