P.L. Travers (1899 – 1966) found inspiration for her writing as an avid reader of fairy tales and mythology. It’s no surprise, then, that she created the magical nanny, Mary Poppins (1934). After the original Mary Poppins book (always the most successful), there were several sequels, and of course, the famous 1964 Disney musical film.
The original Mary Poppins books were darker and more subversive than the Disney-fied version. And the film Saving Mr. Banks, depicting the making of Mary Poppins, had Emma Thompson portraying the prickly author, who fought Disney on every detail. And that still didn’t tell the whole story of just what a pill Travers could be. Here are some quotes by P.L. Travers:
“A writer is, after all, only half his book. The other half is the reader and from the reader the writer learns.” (As quoted in The New York Times, July 2, 1978)
“You can ask me anything you like about my work, but I’ll never talk about myself.” (As quoted by Valerie Lawson, in an interview: “The Mystic Life of P.L. Travers”; May 7, 2003) Read More→
Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) was the ultimate working mother, obliged to supplement her husband’s meager income to support their large family. Consciously using storytelling as social commentary, Stowe’s overarching theme is of writing passionately for a cause. Though the literary merits of her work have long been debated, there’s little dispute that Uncle Tom’s Cabin caused a major shift in public perception of slavery. Here are quotes by Harriet Beecher Stowe that shed light on her own private life as well as her perceptions of humanity.
“Friendships are discovered rather than made.”
“Since I began this note I have been called off at least a dozen times – once for the fish-man, to buy a codfish – once to see a man who had brought me some baskets of apples – once to see a book man…then to nurse the baby – then into the kitchen to make chowder for dinner and now I am at it again for nothing but deadly determination enables me to ever write – it is rowing against wind and tide.” (on interruptions, from a letter to her sister-in-law, 1850) Read More→
Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of the famous novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin was a mother of six who supported herself, her children and her husband with her literary talent. She came from a progressive family who supported her and was blessed with the privilege of education. Here are quotes from several of her novels and stories that demonstrate her humanity and compassion.
“The way to be great lies through books, now, and not through battles.” (The Pearl of Orr’s Island, 1862)
“I did not write it. God wrote it. I merely did his dictation.” (Introduction to the 1879 edition of Uncle Tom’s Cabin) Read More→
Elizabeth von Arnim produced a wealth of quietly (and sometimes subversively) feminist novels and memoirs. She was best known for The Enchanted April (which many decades later became the film Enchanted April). During her lifetime, she usually published under simply “Elizabeth.” She had a wry, dry sense of humor, but also displayed a passion for beauty, especially the beauty of gardens. Here are some of her passionate and pensive quotes.
“I’m so glad I didn’t die on the various occasions I have earnestly wished I might, for I would have missed a lot of lovely weather.” (from a letter to a friend)
“Books have their idiosyncrasies as well as people, and will not show me their full beauties unless the place and time in which they are read suits them.” (The Solitary Summer, 1899) Read More→
Grace Paley‘s literary career encompassed writing about the experiences of women, Jewish life, and teaching at various universities. She was also a poet and received multiple honors for her artistic talent despite not having a college degree. Her work involving political matters involved the founding of the Jewish Women’s Committee to End the Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and encompass anti-racism, anti-militarism and anti-sexism. Here are some of Grace Paley’s quotes on reading, writing, and living:
“There is a long time in me between knowing and telling.”
“The only thing you should have to do is find work you love to do. And I can’t imagine living without having loved a person. A man, in my case. It could be a woman, but whatever.” Read More→