Mary Poppins

This article is about the Mary Poppins series of children's books. For the 1964 Disney film, see Mary Poppins (film). For the 2004 stage musical, see Mary Poppins (musical). For the song, "Mary Poppins", see Mary Poppins (song). For the character, see Mary Poppins (character). For other uses, see Mary Poppins (disambiguation).
Mary Poppins

The first four Mary Poppins books
Mary Poppins
Mary Poppins Comes Back
Mary Poppins Opens the Door
Mary Poppins in the Park
Mary Poppins From A to Z
Mary Poppins in the Kitchen
Mary Poppins in Cherry Tree Lane
Mary Poppins and the House Next Door
Author P. L. Travers
Illustrator Mary Shepard
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Children's literature
Publisher HarperCollins, London
Harcourt, Brace, New York
Published 19341988
Media type hardback

Mary Poppins is a series of eight children's books written by P. L. Travers and published over the period 1934 to 1988. Mary Shepard was the illustrator throughout the series.[1] The books centre on magical English nanny Mary Poppins. She is blown by the East wind to Number 17 Cherry Tree Lane, London, and into the Banks's household to care for their children. Encounters with pavement-painters and shopkeepers and various adventures follow until Mary Poppins abruptly leaves—i.e., "pops-out". Only the first three of the eight books feature Mary Poppins arriving and leaving. The later five books recount previously unrecorded adventures from her original three visits. As P. L. Travers explains in her introduction to Mary Poppins in the Park, "She cannot forever arrive and depart."[2]

The books were adapted by Walt Disney in 1964 into a musical film titled Mary Poppins, starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. In 2004, Disney Theatrical in collaboration with Cameron Mackintosh (who had previously acquired the stage rights from Travers) produced a stage musical also called Mary Poppins in London's West End theatre. The stage musical was transferred to Broadway, New York in 2006, where it ran until its closing on 3 March 2013.[3] In 2013 the film Saving Mr. Banks depicted the making of the 1964 film.


Mary Poppins, published 1934

The first book introduces the Banks family from Number Seventeen Cherry Tree Lane, London, consisting of Mr. and Mrs. Banks, their children Jane and Michael, and baby twins John and Barbara. When the children's nanny, Katie Nana, storms out in a huff, Mary Poppins arrives at their home, complete with her traveling carpetbag, blown in by a very strong East Wind. She accepts the job (agreeing to stay "till the wind changes"), and the children soon learn that their nanny, though she is stern, vain, and usually cross, has a magical touch that makes her wonderful. Among the things Jane and Michael experience are a tea party on a ceiling with Mr. Wigg, a trip around the world with a compass, the purchase of gingerbread stars from the extremely old Mrs. Corry, a meeting with the Bird Woman, a birthday party at the zoo among the animals, and a Christmas shopping trip with a star named Maia from the Pleiades cluster of the Taurus constellation. In the end, in what is perhaps the most iconic image associated with Mary Poppins, she opens her umbrella and the West Wind carries her away.

Original and revised versions of the "Bad Tuesday" chapter

Mary Poppins contained a version of the chapter "Bad Tuesday" in which Mary and the children use a compass to visit places all over the world in a remarkably short period of time. The original story in the 1934 edition contained a variety of cultural and ethnic types of Chinese, Eskimo, sub-Saharan Africans, and Native Americans; Travers responded to criticism that the picture given was too simple by revising the chapter in 1981 to include animal representatives instead of people. At the same time, original illustrator Mary Shepard altered the accompanying drawing of the compass to show a polar bear at the north, a macaw at the south, a panda at the east, and a dolphin at the west.

Mary Poppins Comes Back, published 1935

Nothing has been right since Mary Poppins left Number Seventeen Cherry Tree Lane. One day, when Mrs. Banks sends the children out to the park, Michael flies his kite up into the clouds. Everyone is surprised when it comes down bringing Mary Poppins as a passenger, who returns to the Banks home and takes charge of the children once again (though she'll only stay "till the chain [of her locket] breaks"). This time, Jane and Michael meet the fearsome Miss Andrew, experience an upside-down tea party, and visit a circus in the sky. In the chapter "The New One" a new baby girl in the Banks family is born to the name of Annabel and concludes the family of now five children. As in Mary Poppins, Mary leaves at the end (via an enchanted merry-go-round), but this time with a "return ticket, just in case" she needs to return.

Mary Poppins Opens the Door, published 1943

When Mary last left the Banks children in Cherry Tree Lane, she took a "return ticket, just in case." In the third book, she returns to the park in front of Cherry Tree Lane the way she came, falling with fireworks. Once again she takes up nanny duties in the Banks household and leads Jane, Michael, John, and Barbara on various adventures. This time, they visit her cousin Fred Twigley, befriend a statue that has come to life, go riding on peppermint horses, and experience a garden party under the sea.

Mary Poppins in the Park, published 1952

This fourth book contains six adventures of the Banks children with Mary Poppins during their outings in the park along Cherry Tree Lane. Chronologically the events in this book occurred during the second or third book (Mary Poppins Comes Back and Mary Poppins Opens the Door respectively). Among the adventures they experience are a tea party with the people who live under the dandelions, a visit to cats on a different planet, and a Halloween dance party with their shadows.

Mary Poppins From A to Z, published 1962

Twenty-six vignettes (one for each letter of the alphabet) weave unexpected tales of Mary Poppins, the Banks children, and other characters from Travers's previous novels. Each vignette is filled with fun and unusual words that start with the featured letter.

Mary Poppins in the Kitchen, published 1975

Mary Poppins comes to the rescue when the Banks's family cook has to go on an unexpected leave, teaching the young Banks children the basics of cooking in the process. The book includes recipes.

Mary Poppins in Cherry Tree Lane, published 1982

Mary Poppins takes the Banks children on yet another memorable adventure, this time on the magical Midsummer's Eve. All kinds of strange things can happen, and even mythical figures can descend from the heavens. At the back of the book is a list of the herbs that are mentioned in the story, with their botanical, local and Latin names.

Mary Poppins and the House Next Door, published 1988

The residents of Cherry Tree Lane are distressed to learn that their beloved Number Eighteen, an empty house for which each neighbour has created an imaginary, wished-for tenant, is about to be occupied by Mr. Banks' childhood governess, Miss Andrew, otherwise known as the Holy Terror. Her dreaded arrival brings a pleasant surprise as well, for Luti, a boy from the South Seas, has accompanied her as both servant and student. Delighted by the prospect of a new friend, Jane and Michael are frustrated by the restrictions that the hypochondriacal Miss Andrew has placed on Luti, who grows more and more homesick for his family and tropical surroundings. When the call in his heart to return home becomes more than he can bear, it is Mary Poppins who makes the trip possible by means of a visit to the Man in the Moon.


Due to the series' popularity, there were several adaptations of the books to various media.

Studio One

The character was first brought to life in an early television play telecast live in 1949 by CBS television, as part of their anthology series Studio One. She was played by character actress Mary Wickes. E.G. Marshall portrayed Mr. Banks and future Lassie child star Tommy Rettig played Michael. David Opatoshu played Bert, who was a Match Man (a seller of matches) in this version.

1964 film

Main article: Mary Poppins (film)
Screenshot of Julie Andrews from the trailer for the film Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins was made into a film based on the first four books in the series by Walt Disney Productions in 1964. According to the 40th anniversary DVD release of the film in 2004, Walt Disney first attempted to purchase the film rights to Mary Poppins from P. L. Travers as early as 1938, but was rebuffed because Travers did not believe a film version of her books would do justice to her creation and did not want an animated cartoon based on it. Disney finally succeeded in 1961, although Travers demanded and got script approval rights.

The relationship between Travers and Disney is detailed in Mary Poppins She Wrote, a biography of Travers, by Valerie Lawson, published by Aurum Press in the United Kingdom. The relationship is also the subject of the 2013 Disney film Saving Mr. Banks, starring Emma Thompson as Travers and Tom Hanks as Walt Disney.

The process of planning the film and composing the songs took about two years. Songs in the film are by the Sherman Brothers. Mary Poppins is played by British actress Julie Andrews. Disney cast Dick Van Dyke in the key supporting role of Bert. The Banks children were played by Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber. George and Winifred Banks were played by David Tomlinson and Glynis Johns. The film features a mix of adventures and episodes taken from each of the existing novels, and new events, created for it. In notable differences from the original novels, the film does not include the characters John, Barbara or Annabel Banks, and has Mary Poppins herself characterized as noticeably kinder.[4]

The film received widespread acclaim from critics and audiences, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture with Julie Andrews winning the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance as Mary Poppins. The film won an additional four Oscars for Best Original Song ("Chim Chim Cher-ee"), Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects and Best Original Score. The movie takes place in the year 1910.

1983 film

In 1983, the story was adapted by the Soviet Union's Mosfilm studios into the Russian-language TV musical film Мэри Поппинс, до свидания! (Mary Poppins, Goodbye), starring Natalya Andreychenko (acting) and Tatyana Voronina (singing) as Mary Poppins, Albert Filozov as George Banks and Oleg Tabakov as Miss Andrew.

2003 musical

Author P. L. Travers resisted selling the stage rights to the Mary Poppins stories for many years, as a result of her dislike of the 1964 film version, and her perception of being treated discourteously by Walt Disney at the film's premiere.[5]

Travers eventually agreed to sell the stage rights after being approached by London theatre producer Cameron Mackintosh. She acquiesced on the condition (expressed in her will) that only English-born writers  and no Americans, particularly anyone involved with the film production  were to be directly involved in the creative process of the stage musical.[6]

The world premiere of the stage adaptation of Mary Poppins took place at the Bristol Hippodrome in the United Kingdom in September 2004. The production then moved to the Prince Edward Theatre in London's West End on December 15, 2004, where it ran for three years before closing in January 2008. The show transferred to a UK national tour, and a number of international versions were staged, including a long Broadway run in New York City.

BBC Radio

On 31 May 2010 BBC Radio 7 broadcast a one-hour dramatization combining several of the adventures into one drama, starring Juliet Stevenson as Mary Poppins.[7] This production has been rebroadcast several times on BBC Radio 4 Extra.

2014 Tim Burton Hoaxes

In both March and October 2014, there were rumours circulating that director Tim Burton was set to helm a new version of the story, first with frequent collaborators Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp,[8][9][10] and later on with Cate Blanchett in the title role, alongside Sam Riley. There was even a poster made, with Blanchett in period dress against a Victorian city with umbrellas falling from the sky.[11][12][13] However, both of these were subsequently debunked as total hoaxes by several news outlets.[14][15]

Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

On 14 September 2015, Disney announced a new Mary Poppins film was to be made, with a new plot and new songs. The film is going to be directed by Rob Marshall and written by David Magee. New songs will be composed by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, who have both already gotten support from Richard Sherman, who created some of the iconic songs in the original Mary Poppins. Though the film will not be a reboot or remake of the original 1964 film, Mary Poppins will revisit the Banks Children from the first film. It will be loosely based on the other seven Mary Poppins books by P. L. Travers and expand beyond those. Emily Blunt will star as Mary Poppins,[16] alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda in the role of Jack,[17] similar to Dick Van Dyke's from the first film.[18] It was announced on 31 May 2016 that the film will be titled Mary Poppins Returns and take place in Depression-era London, 20 years after the original film.[19] It is set to be released on 25 December 2018.[20]

Main characters

Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins is a magical nanny who sweeps into the Banks home on Cherry Tree Lane and takes charge of the Banks children. She never acknowledges her strange and magical powers, and feigns insult when one of the children refers to her previous adventures. She first arrives to them when she is blown to Cherry Tree Lane by the East Wind. At the end of the first book she (in what is probably the most iconic thing to do with her) opens up her umbrella to the West Wind and lets it lift her up into the air and away from the children. In the 1964 Disney film of the same name, she is portrayed by Julie Andrews.

Mr. Banks

George Banks is Mary Poppins's employer. He works at a bank and lives at No. 17 Cherry Tree Lane with his wife and their children. In the books he is rarely present, but is gruffly loving of his wife and children. In the film he has a more prominent role as a cross man preoccupied with work who wants order and largely ignores his children and wife, but later on his attitude changes for the better, as Bert convinces him that while he focuses on his life at the bank, his whole life, including his children's childhood, is passing him by. Nothing of this is so much as mentioned in the book. His role in the stage musical is similar to the film, but he has an additional back-story drawn from the original books, in which he was tormented by a cruel governess during his childhood. He is often consumed in his work and, throughout the film, was shown to neglect his children. But he was not a static character. His attitude changed throughout the film to finally becoming the type of affectionate father that most children would wish for, shown most prominently with him fixing his children's kite and taking them to go fly it outside. Though this is not the character specifically created in the books he is represented well. Though he came across as brash and harsh and remained that way in the books, Disney felt that would be a pessimistic persona to portray. In the 1964 Disney film he is portrayed by David Tomlinson.

Mrs. Banks

Mrs. Banks is the wife of George Banks and mother of Jane and Michael and John and Barbara and Annabel Banks. In the books she is the struggling mistress of the Banks household, and is easily intimidated by Mary Poppins, who treats her with thinly-veiled contempt. In the film she is a strident suffragette who is treated somewhat satirically. The reason she was made into a suffragette in the film was to explain why she sometimes did not have time to look after her children. In the stage musical she is a former actress who is under constant pressure from her husband as she struggles to enter his social circle. In the 1964 Disney film she is portrayed by Glynis Johns.

Jane and Michael Banks

Jane and Michael Banks are the 2 of the banks children who appear in all adaptions of the books to screen and stage. They are the 2 eldest and go on the most adventures with Mary Poppins. Matthew Garber and Karen Dotrice

The Banks Children

In the books there are five Banks children: Jane (the eldest), Michael, John, Barbara and Annabel. Jane and Michael are the eldest and go on most of the magical adventures with Mary Poppins. John and Barbara are toddler twins who only start going on adventures in the second book. Annabel is the youngest and is born midway through the second book. But only Jane and Michael appear in the film and stage musical. In the film they are portrayed by Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber.

The Matchman

The Matchman or "Bert" is Mary Poppins's best friend in the film. In the books, when the weather is fine, he draws lifelike pictures on the pavement with chalk, but when it rains he instead sells matches and is thus known as the Matchman. Mary Poppins sometimes goes on outings with Bert on her Second Thursday off. In the film Bert is a combination of the Matchman and the Sweep and has a more prominent role in the children's adventures, including taking care of Mary's Uncle Albert. In the stage musical he acts as a narrator and far-away friend of Mary and the Banks children. In the 1964 Disney film he is portrayed by Dick Van Dyke.

Miss Lark

Miss Lark lives next door to 17 Cherry Tree Lane. She is the owner of two dogs: Andrew and Willoughby. Originally she only had Andrew, who is pure-bred, but the mongrel Willoughby joined the family at Andrew's request (the dog language translated to English by Mary Poppins). She appears throughout the books and is usually appalled by the magical antics of Mary Poppins. The most iconic thing about her is her obsession with her dogs and has been known to bring them to the hairdresser's and even buy them fur coats and boots. She appears in the film and stage musical as a minor role. In the film she is portrayed by Marjorie Bennett.

Admiral Boom

Admiral Boom also lives along Cherry Tree Lane. He is a former Naval Officer, but now lives in a house shaped like a ship with his wife Mrs. Boom and his assistant Binnacle, who is a former pirate. He is remarkable for his use of colourful sailor's language, although, as the books are intended for children, he never actually swears; his favourite interjection is "Blast my gizzard!" In the film he is a neighbour of the Banks family who fires his cannon to mark the time; this version of the Admiral is far less salty and more of a proper, "Shipshape and Bristol fashion" kind of sailor, insistent on order and punctuality. In the film he is portrayed by Reginald Owen.

The servants

In the books, the Banks have three servants in addition to Mary Poppins: Ellen, Mrs. Brill, and Robertson Ay. Ellen is the maid and although she loves the children, she hates having to look after them when there is no nanny in the house. Mrs. Brill is the cook; she particularly dislikes Ellen. She is often grumpy for no reason. Robertson Ay is the jack of all trades. He is a young boy (mid-teens) and is very lazy and forgetful, doing such things as putting bootblack on Mr Banks's hat, thus ruining it. In Mary Poppins Comes Back, it is hinted that he is a character in a story that Mary Poppins tells the children about a king who is led astray by The Fool (Jester). It is hinted that he is the fool. The film depicts Mrs. Brill and Ellen (played by Reta Shaw and Hermione Baddeley, respectively), but not Robertson Ay; the musical includes Mrs. Brill and Robertson Ay, without Ellen.

The Park Keeper

The Park Keeper is a frequently recurring character in the books. He is very particular and obsessive about the Park's Bye-Laws and such. He is very confused and sometimes annoyed by Mary Poppins's magical adventures but has learnt to accept that there are things about her he will never understand.

Anniversary celebrations

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of P. L. Travers living in Bowral, an attempt was made to break the world record for the world's largest umbrella mosaic on Bradman Oval, Bowral, at 2:06pm on 7 May 2011. The event was organised by the Southern Highlands Youth Arts Council.[21] The record was achieved, with 2115 people.[22] An aerial photograph was taken by helicopter.[23]

Olympics 2012

Thirty actors dressed as Mary Poppins dropped in and battled a 100-foot inflatable Lord Voldemort at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium, London.[24]

See also


  1. "Mary Poppins in the Park", P. L. Travers,, retrieved 2 January 2015
  2. Travers, Pamela Lyndon (2000), Mary Poppins in the park, Harcourt, Brace & World, p. xiii.
  3. "'Aladdin' Opens at New Amsterdam Theatre, 'Mary Poppins' Closing March 3". Retrieved 1 April 2013.
  4. Anita Singh (10 Apr 2012). "Story of how Mary Poppins author regretted selling rights to Disney to be turned into film". The Telegraph. London.
  5. Hughes, Kathryn (2013-10-06). "Review: Mary Poppins She Wrote by Valerie Lawson". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-10-10.
  6. Saunders, Alan (2013-09-18). "Something about Mary – PL Travers and Mary Poppins". The Monthly. Retrieved 2013-10-10.
  7. "BBC Radio 4 Extra - PL Travers - Mary Poppins". BBC. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  8. "Tim Burton's MARY POPPINS Disney Poster, Revealed to be just an Early April Fool's Joke!". BEYOND THE MARQUEE. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  9. "Tim Burton announces Mary Poppins film;". Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  10. "Tim Burton and Disney Announce 'Poppins' November 2016". FanSided. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  11. "Tim Burton Recreating 'Mary Poppins'?". Guardian Liberty Voice. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  12. David Catterall (6 October 2014). "TIM BURTON to direct Cate Blanchett as Mary Poppins?". Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  13. "Cate Blanchett to Star in Tim Burton Remake of Mary Poppins?". Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  14. "April Fools: Tim Burton isn't remaking Mary Poppins, upcoming Disneyland area art gallery is behind the poster gone viral - Inside the Magic". Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  15. "Cate Blanchett isn't Tim Burton's Mary Poppins". Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  16. Kit, Borys (February 18, 2016). "Emily Blunt in Talks to Star in Disney's 'Mary Poppins' Sequel". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 20, 2016.
  17. Lang, Brent (April 25, 2016). "Disney Claims Dates for Several New Movies; Confirms 'Jungle Book 2,' 'Mary Poppins' Sequel". Variety. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  18. Kroll, Justin (February 24, 2016). "'Hamilton's' Lin-Manuel Miranda in Talks for 'Mary Poppins' Sequel (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  19. "Disney's Mary Poppins sequel to get Christmas Day debut". BBC. 1 June 2016.
  20. Pedersen, Erik (May 31, 2016). "'Mary Poppins' Sequel Gets Title & Release Date From Disney". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 31, 2016.
  21. "Mary Poppins World Record Attempt". AU: SHYAC. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  22. "World's Largest Umbrella Mosaic". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  23. "Mary Poppins Birthplace". Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  24. Bell, Crystal (Jul 27, 2012). "London Olympics: Voldemort, Mary Poppins Have An Epic Duel". The Huffington post. Retrieved 28 July 2012.

Further reading

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mary Poppins.

Bostridge, Mark, "Hail Mary", The independent, London .[Dead link]

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