50 Smith Street
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1934 – Actress and poet Pamela Lyndon Travers (born Helen Lyndon Goff) writes her first book: ‘Mary Poppins’.
The story of a magical nanny who pops up into the lives of the Banks family, the book is a quick success.
‘Mary Poppins Comes Back’ follows in 1935, with a sequel published every decade until the last installment in 1988.
Her reluctance to give the rights to Walt Disney and her disapproval of the finished movie could be easily explained by the roots of the Mary Poppins character.
The product of a difficult and impoverished childhood, Travers lost her father -a former banker turned alcoholic- at a young age, waiting for something or someone to fix everything… The same way Mary Poppins pops up and leaves abruptly in the stories.
The Banks’ house at 17, Cherry Tree Lane was partly inspired by P.L Travers‘ 50 Smith Street London home, used as an early reference by the Disney designers.
Walt Disney‘s tumultous collaboration with P.L. Travers is the subject of the 2013 movie ‘Saving Mr Banks’, written by Kelly Marcel, directed by John Lee Hancock, starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson.
Produced by Walt Disney, the famous 1964 adaptation was written by Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi, directed by Robert Stevenson, featuring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke with cinematography by Edward Colman, music by Irwin Kostal, lyrics by the Sherman Brothers: Richard & Robert Sherman.
The character of Mary Poppoins was harsher in the books than in this film, where she gets to dance on rooftops and flirts with sweeps with bad cockney accents.
The musical, written by Julian Fellowes (Downtown Abbey) features the songs of the Sherman Brothers with additional songs by Anthony Drewe and George Styles, who previously wrote the music & lyrics for a stage adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s ‘Peter Pan’ in 1996.
Directed by Richard Eyre, co-directed by actor Matthew Bourne an co-choreographed by Stephen Mear, the West End production was followed by a Broadway adaptation in 2006 and received 7 Tony Awards nominations.
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