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How I cancelled Mary Poppins

I have a confession: In 1982, I cancelled Mary Poppins.

The book’s beloved author, P.L. Travers, had just released a new version that removed some of the ethnic stereotypes that were in the original —I remember that “Eskimos” and Africans were caricatures, and I think there were more.

I was freelancing for Macleans at the time, and interviewed Ms. Travers about it over the phone. She was sweet, humble, and kind. It was a bit like getting to talk with Mr. Rogers.

I asked her why she had revised the book. She replied something like, “Why, I wouldn’t want to hurt any creature, human or animal.” (I can’t find the article online anywhere.)

So, yes, I actively helped to cancel Mary Poppins.

I wonder whatever happened to that book…

* * *

(Do I have to add that the article was in fact supportive of her? Good lord, you people are monsters!)

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One Response to “How I cancelled Mary Poppins”

  1. My old pre-Disney hardcover copies of the four principal Mary Poppins books are among my ost treasured memories, possessions (they’re on a bookshelf in my study at work — the same shelf with your own work, David), and there will be no cancelling them.

    On the other hand, well done to Ms Travers for her willingness to change her work when incidental aspects of it show up differently in a changed culture.

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