Home' Snap Shot Magazine : April 2010 Contents Coverstory
WORDS JACKIE ME
SHE oated in under her umbrella, went on magical adventures and
xed things with a spoonful of sugar. Most people are familiar with
the mystical qualities of Mary Poppins, but far fewer are aware that
the classic storybook and movie character had her origins in the
In fact July 2010 is considered the 100th anniversary of the inspiration for
Mary Poppins and several Highlands fans of the character are determined
to ensure the prestigious centenary does not go unnoticed in her town of
It is a campaign driven by Chevalier High School student Melissa
McShane, 17, with the support of her father, Paul McShane, of Booktown
Australia and several community organisations including Bowral Chamber
of Commerce, Southern Highlands Business Chamber and the Southern
Highlands Youth Arts Council (SHYAC)
Mary Poppins is the creation of Helen Lyndon Go , better known in the
literary world as Pamela Lyndon (PL) Travers, who spent much of her youth
growing up in a house in Holly Street, Bowral.
In fact, the nanny with the magical touch was something of a mythical
escape for her creator who grew up in "tough times" in the Highlands from
Her mother and two younger sisters, Barbara (Biddy) and Moya, relocated
to Bowral from Queensland after Go 's father, Travers Robert Go died.
She was only about eight years old at the time and spent the next 10
formative years of her life living in a weatherboard cottage in Holly Street,
attending boarding school in Sydney from about the age of 13 and
returning to Bowral during the holidays.
The author revealed little of her earlier life in Australia, but many secrets
have been uncovered by her biographer, Valerie Lawson,
as well as fans of the author and her most renowned character,
Melissa is one of those fans keen to learn all she can about one of her
"favourite ctional characters".
The determined teenager and her father have spent many hours at the
Mitchell Library in Sydney reading documents and records related to the
life of Go including her childhood memories.
The two are convinced the Mary Poppins character was inspired by Go 's
life in Bowral.
"The Go family was supported by a rich aunt, Ellie, who lived in Sydney,
but Go 's mother struggled with the task of raising her three young
daughters alone," Melissa said.
"PL Travers records a time around 1910
when her mother ran out into heavy rain
to drown herself in the creek behind their
"To ease their anxiety, Go gathered her
two younger sisters around the replace
in their home and began to tell them a story
about a magical white horse that she later claimed
transformed itself into
"The mother failed in her suicide bid and returned to the
family, but I think Go , who was about 12 at the time, realised she
had somehow left childhood behind and her life changed."
Mr McShane said he and Melissa had deduced the episode took
place in winter because the children had gathered around the re and
wrapped themselves in an eiderdown.
He said further research of Bowral's daily rainfall records revealed that
1910 was a very dry year with the only signi cant period of heavy rain
similar to Go 's childhood memories of the episode coming in July of that
Mr McShane said that July 18-20, 1910, had been identi ed as the time
when Helen Lyndon Go 's mythical thought process began to create the
"Later in life she said the story she told her sisters at that time in Bowral
resolved the mystery in her own mind of where Mary Poppins came from,"
"She had long been evasive about the origins of Mary Poppins, but at
least one of her sisters recalled her telling stories about the mysterious
nanny while they were young.
"As an adult Travers reported nding a book she had owned when she
was 12. Inside the cover of that book was the name M Poppins in her
childhood handwriting and this caused her to wonder if her sister was
right after all.
"Some people believe the Mary Poppins character was modelled around
Aunt Ellie, who lived in Sydney but always seemed be on hand to x things.
"Go was an ambitious young woman who harboured dreams of being
on the stage. She wanted to be an actor and she had talent, but I think her
time in Bowral led to the birth of her role as a storyteller. >
6 snapshot magazine : snapshot.realviewtechnologies.com : april 2010
come out of the bag
Links Archive March 2010 May 2010 Navigation Previous Page Next Page