1. Mary Poppins is cheerful.
P.L. Travers’ original book, Mary Poppins, published in 1934, featured a stern and cross characterization of the title character. Less spoonfuls of sugar and way more medicine going down. Travers, who originally approved of the casting of Julie Andrews, was upset to see Disney portray her as a smiling, cheery nanny when she was meant to be a mysterious and intimidating figure.
2. Three kids disappear.
In the book, there are a total of five Banks children. In the film there are only two, Jane and Michael. Um, can you say AMBER alert?
3. Mary Poppins controls the elements.
In the film, Mary Poppins controls the wind. In the book, it’s vice versa.
4. Mary is pretty.
Okay, when you cast Julie Andrews you know you are getting a beautiful actress, but P.L. Travers was put out by the fact that her Mary Poppins was supposed to be really ugly, and yet, entirely vain.
5. Bert is a chimney sweep.
False. In the books he held a few jobs, including a screever and a “Matchman”. The Sweep was actually a completely different character. Dick Van Dyke must have just looked really good in soot.
6. Mary only stays for about two weeks.
In the books, Mary came and went to Cherry Tree Lane many times over the course of years.
7. Mrs. Banks is a suffragette.
The Sherman Brothers, who wrote the score for the film, came up with the idea to make Mrs. Banks a suffragette in order to explain why she was such a neglectful, crappy mother. In fact, in the film, Mrs. Banks and Mary Poppins never speak once.
8. It takes place in the Edwardian Era instead of the 1930s.
There’s really no explanation for it.
9. Mary and Bert’s romantic relationship.
P.L. Travers was insistent that Disney remove any hints of a romance between Mary and Bert because they were only BFFs in the books. Thus, the song “Jolly Holiday” was written. It features explicit friendzoning lyrics. But if you actually watch the movie, you realize their romance, while subtle, is totally obvious.
10. Mary is magical for no reason.
In the film, Mary Poppins has a magic that she sort of denies. She doesn’t have an origin story. In the books, it’s explained that Mary is the “Great Exception,” meaning she is the only adult human who has retained the magic everyone has at infancy. That’s why she can talk to animals and her umbrella.
11. The missing boy servant.
In the books, there are three hired servants. In the film, only the maid and the cook appear. The missing one is a young teenage boy named Robertson Ay, who is depicted as a foolish jack of all trades. I guess lazy boy servants aren’t very Disney.
That’s not even a real fake word.
When Disney saw the finished product:
Walt Disney considered Mary Poppins the crowning achievement of his career.
When P.L. Travers saw the finished product:
Reportedly, P.L. Travers left the premiere of the film in tears, panning the film for its friendly characterization of Mary Poppins, distasteful animated scenes, and “anti-feminist” ending. She vowed never to sell the film rights to any of her books again. She never did.
But that didn’t stop Disney from making a movie about the whole P.L. Travers fiasco.
Saving Mr. Banks , starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, comes out in December 2013. P.L. Travers is rolling in her grave.