PAMELA LYNDON TRAVERS, OBE more widely known as P.L. Travers, was born. Her birth name was Helen Lyndon Goff. (d: 1996), The Australian-British novelist, actress and journalist and author of a series of children’s novels about the mystical and magical English nanny, Mary Poppins. In 1924, she emigrated to England where she wrote under the pen name P. L. Travers. During the Second World War, while working for the British Ministry of Information, she travelled to New York where Roy Disney first contacted her about selling the Mary Poppins character to the Disney studio for film use.
Though Travers had numerous fleeting relationships with men throughout her life, she lived for more than a decade with Madge Burnand, daughter of Sir Francis Burnand, a playwright and the former editor of the satirical publication, Punch. They shared a London flat from 1927 to 1934, then moved to a thatched cottage in Sussex, where Travers published the first of the Mary Poppins books; while on holiday in Italy, Burnand photographed Travers topless on the beach. Their friendship, in the words of one biographer, was “intense,” but also equally ambiguous.
At the age of 40, two years after moving out on her own, Travers adopted a baby boy from Ireland whom she named Camillus Travers Hone. He was the grandchild of Joseph Hones, W.B. Yeats’ first biographer, who was raising his seven grandchildren with his wife. Camillus had a twin brother named Anthony, but Travers chose only Camillus, based on advice from her astrologer. Camillus was unaware of his true parentage or the existence of any siblings until the age of 17, when Anthony came to London and knocked on the door of Travers’ house. He had been drinking and demanded to see his brother. Travers refused to allow it and threatened to call the police. Anthony left but soon after, Camillus, after arguing with Travers, went looking for his brother and found him in a pub on Kings Road.
Travers was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1977. She lived into advanced old age, but her health was declining toward the end of her life. Travers died in London on April 23, 1996 at the age of 96. According to her grandchildren, Travers “died loving no one and with no one loving her.” Her son Camillus died in London in November 2011.