Sunday 15 September 2019

Mary Poppins author commemorated with blue plaque

English Heritage have installed the plaque outside the former home of P. L. Travers in Chelsea.

A blue plaque has been installed outside the former home of Mary Poppins author P. L. Travers. (English Heritage)
A blue plaque has been installed outside the former home of Mary Poppins author P. L. Travers. (English Heritage)

By Andrew Arthur, Press Association Entertainment Reporter

Author P. L. Travers, whose Mary Poppins books inspired the Disney film, has been honoured by English Heritage with a blue plaque outside her former home.

To mark London History Day the plaque has been  installed outside 50 Smith Street in Chelsea in west London, where Travers lived for 17 years.

The residence also inspired the depiction of the Banks family’s home in the 1964 cinema adaptation starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke.

Mary Poppins author P. L. Travers lived at 50 Smith Street in Chelsea for 17 years. (English Heritage)

Travers’ daughter-in-law Frances shared her memories of the Australian-born writer’s time at the house, where she lived after returning from the US in 1945.

Frances Travers said: “Mimoo as we called her, lived in Smith Street before any of the Kings Road commercial frenzy had begun.

“She always wore a soft grey coat that swung from the shoulders, I think it was called a duster coat, and little dresses of many blue and grey checks just to mid-calf underneath.

“In her little green Ford she was able to be independent and that is how I like to remember her, with Crocus the tortoiseshell cat and Pompey the beloved dachshund!

“I am so glad that a plaque has been put on this house as memories of those days are so dear to me.

“That’s when I arrived in London aged about 16, spellbound by the knowledge of what wonderful people had lived in the streets all around.

“No wonder she loved to live there too!”

Travers wrote eight books about the magical English nanny who is blown  into the Banks’ family household to care for their children Jane and Michael.

Travers had reservations about the way the characters in her books was reinterpreted in the Disney film.

Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks at the gala screening of Saving Mr Banks, the closing film of the 57th BFI London Film Festival at Odeon Leicester Square, London

Her disputes with Walt Disney were dramatised in the 2013 film Saving Mr Banks, which starred Emma Thompson as Travers and Tom Hanks as Disney.

English Heritage’s London-wide blue plaque scheme has been running  for 150 years.

Other prominent literary figures to have been recognised include Peter Pan creator J. M. Barrie in Bayswater, Moby Dick writer Herman Melville in Charing Cross, and The Wind In The Willows author Kenneth Grahame in Kensington.

English Heritage Blue Plaques’ senior historian Howard Spencer praised Travers’ boundless imagination, saying: “We’re pleased to be able to recognise her achievements with a blue plaque on the home where she lived during the negotiations with Disney and which was in her mind’s eye when she told him how the Banks’s family home should look.”

PA Media

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment

Back to top