It surprises many people to learn that P.L. Travers, the creator of these stories set in London featuring an English nanny, was actually an Australian. She was born Helen Lyndon Goff in Maryborough, Queensland, on 9th August, 1899. Her family moved to another Queensland town, Allora, when she was three. After the death of her father in 1907, the family – her mother and two sisters – moved to a cottage rented for them by a wealthy aunt in Bowral, New South Wales. The family lived there until 1917, though Lyndon did attend boarding school at The Normanhurst Private Girls School in Ashfield Sydney, from 1912 until 1916, returning to Bowral for the holidays. The family then moved to Sydney in 1917. Taking the name, Pamela Lyndon Travers, she pursued a career on the stage, touring with a theatre company through regional NSW and New Zealand during 1921-22. By this time she had begun to write and publish poetry, as well as newspaper columns.
In February 1924, she fulfilled a long-held dream and sailed for England and Ireland and began her career as the writer, P.L. Travers. She only ever returned once to visit Australia, for two weeks in 1965 to visit her sisters.
For more information on P.L. Travers consult Valerie Lawson’s comprehensive biography Out of the Sky She Came (1999) since republished as Mary Poppins She Wrote