Mary Poppins opened last year in London's West End in Cameron Mackintosh's musical production and has proved a huge success predicted to run for at least five years. Next year it is due to open on Broadway in New york. Meanwhile the Disney film has just been re-released on DVD, and the books remain in print and as classic as ever. But this is the first full biography of the woman who wrote the Mary Poppins books, and a fascinating and extraordinary life it was too. P.L. Travers was Australian, came to London as a journalist early in the twentieth century, became involved with Theosophism, got to know W.B. Yeats and George Russell, took her lifelong quest for guru-figures on to Gurdjieff and Krishnamurti - and lived into her nineties. By the end of her life, in the seventies, she was living in a flat off London's Kings Road and going to chat to the punks outside Malcolm McLaren's clothing shop!
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Valerie Lawson is a feature writer for The Sydney Morning Herald
. Her previous books are Connie Sweetheart
and The Allens Affair
. She lives in Sydney and London.