Friday, 29 May 2015

Was Mary Poppins Nanny McPhee's Aunt?

At Christmas 1964, my Grandmother took me to the cinema to see Mary Poppins. I loved it! Julie Andrews singing, Dick Van Dyke’s crazy dancing [ignore his appalling accent] and the lovely views of London [we were living in cold County Durham then, which felt like the far north to me. I missed the Metropolis]I scoured the library for more P L Travers.

When I won my Sunday School Prizes that year, they came in the form of book tokens [My Dad had suggested that it was better to give children a choice, rather than foist unwanted books on them] I spent mine on Mary Poppins in the Park

There were 8 Poppins books – five written between 1934-52, one which came out just before the film, and 2 in the 1980s [I don’t think I read them] At the end of my book, it simply says “Chelsea, London, March 1952 G. I. E. D.” Dad explained that was Gloria in Excelsis Deo  - Glory to God in The Highest. Which seemed a little odd to me at the time.

Then Morgan, thoughtful as ever, read my post where I mentioned the new film and offered to lend me her DVD. We watched it over the Bank Holiday weekend. It was charming. It tells two stories – how Walt Disney promised his daughters he would make a film of their favourite book, and the difficulties he had persuading the author to let him – and alongside that, the story of P L Travers childhood, and her relationship with her father.The film was clever, witty, and happy – and alongside that, was thought-provoking and poignant. The Sherman brothers [played by  B J Novak and Jason Schwartzman] were utterly brilliant, as they sat at the piano and created the songs for the film [alarmingly, it appears that Bob and I seem to know all the words!] and Annie Rose Buckley plays a wonderful Ginty [Ginty was PL Travers childhood nickname – she was born Helen Lyndon Goff, and her parents were Travers and Margaret] But my favourite characters were Walt Disney himself and Pamela Travers. WD was Tom Hanks [is it me, or do other people think he is becoming the 21st century’s equivalent of James Stewart?] and PLT was Emma Thompson. That woman is so gifted!


But having enjoyed Morgan’s DVD, I took my 50 year-old Poppins down from the shelf to read it again. And i struck me that Nanny McPhee owes an awful lot to Ms Travers, and Miss Poppins. PLT would not let Walt make any more films, but some of the ideas in later MP books do seem to have crept into the Nanny McPhee stuff. These nannies only hang about whilst they are needed, and they fly off when the wind changes!

Thank you Morgan for lending me the DVD, definitely a *****

Spit spot! Let’s go fly a kite, or feed the birds!


  1. I had no idea there were 5 Mary Poppins books. I do enjoy the film but now wonder how it differs from the book. Nanny McPhee is such fun, I wonder if Emma Thomson will make a third film.

  2. Do you think it's a coincidence that the lovely Emma Thompson wrote & starred in the Nanny McPhee films and is PLTravis in Saving Mr Banks?

  3. I remember when Mary Poppins was first released. My older brothers were taken to Romford Odeon to see it but I was considered too young to go. I didn't see the film until I had children of my own and have viewed it many times. Saving Mr Banks is a first rate film.

  4. I keep meaning to read the Poppins books-I've got one so will try to dig it out. I loved Saving Mr Banks, SUCH a great film. And yes, I definitely think Nanny McPhee was thus inspired. I also think.what Fat Dormouse days is interesting.g. x

  5. I didn't realize that Saving Mr. Banks was about that. Will have to look out for it.

  6. I loved those books when I was young. We haven't yet seen Saving Mr. Banks - thank you for the reminder! Off now to the library website to order it. :)

  7. Stuart & I also know the words for the songs in Mary Poppins - it's one of my husband's favourite films! Nanny McPhee was adapted by Emma T. from Christianna Brand's Nurse Matilda books.

    Agree that Saving Mr. Banks is worth watching.

    Lesley H in Livingston

    1. Thanks for that info about Nanny McPhee - I must check out the Brand books!

  8. I LOVED Disney's Mary Poppins, too. I'm a huge Nanny McPhee fan and anything with Emma Thompson is lovely. She IS amazing!


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