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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A shared endeavor


“A writer is, after all, only half his book. The other half is the reader and from the reader the writer learns.” P. L. Travers

Australian-born (on this date in 1899) British novelist, actress, and journalist Travers emigrated to England and lived most of her adult life there, although she spent a number of years in America, living on several Southwest U.S. Indian Reservations and writing journalistically about the experience.   Best known for her Mary Poppins’ series of children's books, she also was a noted actress during the 1920s.  It was while acting that she changed her name to P.L. Travers, her birth name being Lyndon Goff. 

Her first writing came as a poet during her teenage years and she was fairly successful.  She let that go after getting into acting, but writing continued to be a draw, and after touring the world with a Shakespeare Theater company, she found her true calling writing children’s books.  “My family didn't like me going on the stage,” she said, “but they didn't much like my being a writer, either.”   By the time she had finished her long career, Travers was honored as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.  She died in 1996.

Travers approached her writing with a questioning mind and never thought that what she had to say might be considered “answers” to any sort of writing puzzle.   Perhaps every writer should think along those lines, especially when people want them to provide that magic elixir for putting words on paper.    “For me, there are no answers, only questions,                                
and I am grateful that the questions go on and on,” Travers said.   “I don't look for an answer because I don't think there is one. So, I'm very glad to be the bearer of a question.”


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