24 January 2011

P. L. Travers and the Paris Review

Back when The Paris Review put its entire stash of author interviews online, I skimmed the list for favorite children’s fantasy writers, and didn’t see any.

But I missed the conversation with P. L. Travers, whence this anecdote comes:

The other day two little boys accosted me in the street and said to me, “You are the lady who wrote Mary Poppins, aren’t you?”

And I admitted it, and said, “How do you know?” And they said, “Because we sing in the choir, and the vicar told us.”

So, clearly, they had thrown off their surplices and rushed after me to catch me. So I said, “Well, do you like her?” And they both nodded vigorously. I then said, “What is it you like about her?”

And one of them said, “Well, she’s so ordinary and then…” and having said “and then” he looked around for the proper word, and couldn’t find it.

And I said, “You don’t have to say any more. That ‘and then’ says everything.”

And the other little boy said, “Yes, and I’m going to marry her when I grow up.”

And I saw the first one clench his fists and look very belligerent. I felt there might be trouble and so I said, “Well, we’ll just have to see what she thinks about it, won’t we? And in the meantime, my house is just there—come in and have a lemonade.” So they did.
Further discussion covers whether Mary Poppins stories reflect the Mother Goddess or Zen parables.

No comments: