Vickie Lester’s greatest hits — P.L. TRAVERS VERSUS WALT DISNEY

I am fascinated by an upcoming film project, SAVING MR. BANKS. It promises to illuminate the contentious relationship between Walt Disney and the author of the “Mary Poppins” series, P.L. Travers. Apparently Travers cried through the premiere of what she thought an “appalling” film. I would say there was, perhaps, a clash of aesthetics…


However, it’s naive to think a book will be exactly reproduced on film — they never have been, they never will. A book reflects its writer. A movie represents a collaborative mindset. If you are an author and are inclined to accept the fee for the film rights, bank the very handsome treasure you receive, and don’t look back.

Saving Mr Banks: Feud between Mary Poppins author PL Travers and Walt Disney set to hit the big screen | Mail Online.

Life and Letters: Becoming Mary Poppins : The New Yorker.

Subscribe to Podcast


  1. August 15, 2012

    I read the book “Mary Poppins” when I was a little girl and loved it. So much so that when I saw the movie, I had the same reaction as P. L. Travers. I was 9 years old in 1964, so I was not yet mature enough to think of something as “appalling,” rather I came out of the theater thinking it was all wrong. I was so disappointed, but also too young to understand a movie would not exactly reproduce a book. As an adult, I don’t like to see the movie versions of books I’ve read. I have a feeling it’s because of that early experience.

    Thanks for sharing these photos. It was fun to think about the book (which I still have), and the memory.

    • August 15, 2012

      I came to the “Mary Poppins” books and the movie version a few years later than you did, but I completely agree. There is no comparison. The books are pure enchantment, the movie — I shouldn’t say this, but I’m going to — is slightly tacky.
      Now I need to go read some of your book reviews and put something fresh in my Amazon cart.

  2. August 16, 2012

    Can you imagine how long “Gone With The Wind” would have been if they had tried to film the Book? Yes books are apples and movies are oranges.

    • August 16, 2012

      A page is about a minute of film time… How long was that book anyway? I think it took me about a week to read!

      • August 16, 2012

        1037 pages so that would bring it in at 17 hours and 28 minutes! (.3333 seconds)

  3. August 16, 2012

    Zowie! How did you do that??? I suppose there would have to be an intermission…

  4. August 19, 2012

    This was a new story to me. Interesting. I think there are a few (very few) examples of movies that almost slavishly follow the book. Rosemary’s Baby, for instance, is very close, but it was a much shorter novel than most.

    • August 19, 2012

      There are a couple of films I never saw, that I know I should have, and one of them is Rosemary’s Baby… The only film that I can think of recently that was very close to the book was “The Hours”.

      • Bonnie K.
        July 9, 2015

        I liked the movie “The Help,” but then I saw the movie before I read the book.

      • July 9, 2015

        Hi Bonnie, from what I remember that was a really well done adaptation. A friend of mine was the costume designer on that film and she said it was so hot and humid on location they had to sew perspiration shields under the arms of all the garments…

  5. December 6, 2013

    Not sure what this says about me but I didn’t like either the book or the movie as a youngster. I was about 45 when I decided I quite liked the movie but I have had the book in my storeroom for years and haven’t been tempted to read it. So why is the book still there, I wonder? Perhaps I am saving it for my old age 🙂

  6. September 26, 2014

    I preferred the reasonably recent stage version we had in the UK. Thanks, Vickie, for following First Night History, by the way!

Comments are closed.