1934, 1988, art, artist, arts, battle, bert, book, books, canvas, chalk, chalker, chalking, chalks, cherry, disney, england, english, ernest, film, history, illustrations, jan, lane, london, mary, movie, news, pamela, pavement, pavement art, paving, philip, pl travers, poppins, publication, screever, screeving, shepard, social, square, stone, street, struther, sycamore, travers, tree, uk, urban, urbancanvas, walt
Mary Poppins & the Illustrations of Mary Shepard
“Mary Poppins takes the children on a walk to the nearby park. There they meet Bert, the pavement artist, who is busy creating his latest work of art. The children are bored with the park and wary of Bert’s ragged clothes. Mary Poppins urges them to look beyond the surface of everyday life to see the magic that lies beneath (A Jolly Holiday)”
The quintessential English pavement artist BERT was a character invented by the Australian born writer Pamela Travers, and included in her 1934 book MARY POPPINS. Remembered affectionately by everybody following the 1964 film release by Walt Disney, and bizarrely played by Dick Van Dyke, who possessed the worst London cockney accent in the history of cinema.
In all eight books were published between 1934 and 1988
Mary Poppins, published 1934
Mary Poppins Comes Back, published 1935
Mary Poppins Opens the Door, published 1943
Mary Poppins in the Park, published 1952
Mary Poppins From A to Z, published 1962
Mary Poppins in the Kitchen, published 1975
Mary Poppins in Cherry Tree Lane, published 1982
Mary Poppins and the House Next Door, published 1988
The Mary Poppins that many people know of today; a stern, but sweet, lovable, and reassuring British nanny – is a far cry from the character created by Pamela Lyndon Travers in the 1930′s. Instead, this is the Mary Poppins reinvented by Walt Disney in the eponymous movie.
The books by PL Travers, shed light on the origins of Mary Poppins, and draw important parallels between the character and the life of her creator, who worked as a nanny herself, the books are a literary success and continue to have such a strong popular reception throughout the world. They also demonstrate how subversive Mary Poppins truly was. The nanny was a figure adopted during the Victorian and Edwardian Age to embody, teach, and pass on the most rigid and rigorous rules values of that society – the very ones that Mary Poppins herself comes to unsettle.
How odd childhood was for the middle classes, if they had no siblings it was not uncommon for them to spend their entire first seven years with no other children to play with, unless under carefully controlled conditions. Many children spent relatively little time with their parents. In these circumstances, dependence on a nanny could be absolute, the world the nanny created was often, the only world they knew.
One of the odd things about the Poppins books is that they do not encourage a child’s creativity; they allow access to a world in which other people have the adventures and the children mostly watch.
Travers chose an illustrator, a young woman named Mary Shepard, whose father, Ernest Shepard, had illustrated the “Winnie-the-Pooh” books. It was the beginning of a long, fruitful, and often unhappy relationship. Shepard illustrated all of the “Mary Poppins” books, though often with some bitterness: Travers allowed her almost no license in how she composed images. Travers was intimately involved in all aspects of the physical production of her books, including the colour of the dust jackets and the typeface.
The original book, which came out in 1934, was not only popular with children but well received by the audience whose opinion she valued most. T. S. Eliot, who was then an editor at Faber and Faber, expressed interest; Ted Hughes later wrote to tell her that Sylvia Plath had loved “Mary Poppins.” Princess Margaret and Caroline Kennedy were both admirers.
Bert the pavement artist appeared in almost all the Mary Poppins books.
The Illustrator, Mary Shepard, was the daughter of Ernest Shepard; better known for his illustrations of Winnie the Pooh. But in 1932, he illustrated a little known book of poems by Jan Struther (Tales from Sycamore Square) This is thought to be Mary’s original inspiration for Bert in Mary Poppins, and it is quite possibly the illustrations used to inform the Disney production team.
Research & additional material by Philip Battle