August 9 – Happy Birthday, P. L. Travers

Posted on August 9, 2014

Happy birthday to the creator of Mary Poppins!

Pamela Lyndon Travers was born Helen Lyndon Goff on this date in 1899. She was born and raised in Australia, and as a young adult she emigrated to England. 

She was not only a famous author, she was an actress, a journalist, and she worked for the British Ministry of Information during World War II!

Travers as an actress
Lyndon Goff began working early—publishing her poems while she was just a teenager and writing for periodicals while building her reputation as an actress. She adopted the stage name Pamela Lyndon Travers—using her father's first name as her last name. When she went to England, she decided to throw herself into writing, and she adapted her stage name as her pen name, P. L. Travers.

Actress Julie Andrews, Walt Disney,
and P. L. Travers at the premiere of
"Mary Poppins"
You may know that many women writers use initials rather than their full names, in part because so many men and boys are less likely to try novels (or believe articles) penned by women. J. K. Rowling is a current example. However, a lot of men use (and used) their initials as well, such as Peter Pan author J. M. Barrie and J. R. R. Tolkien. It's interesting to note that some authors use different pen names for different sorts of writing.

Speaking of J. M. Barrie, apparently Travers greatly admired his work and copied some structural aspects of his children's novels. As a matter of fact, Travers's first publisher was Barrie's adopted son.

Did you know...?

Travers spent two summers living among the Hopi, Navajo, and Pueblo peoples, studying their mythology and folklore.

Travers also studied Zen mysticism in Japan.


Enjoy reading or watching Mary Poppins (remember, there are eight Mary Poppins books!).

Or find out more about Travers by watching Saving Mr. Banks, the story of the Disney adaptation of Travers's book.

Also on this date:

Battle of Flowers in Jersey 

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