Verdun Ball traces the life and literary career of the writer Helen Lyndon Goff


P. L. Travers, author of the acclaimed children’s classic ‘Mary Poppins’ was the pen-name of Helen Lyndon Goff. She’d strong links with Ireland. In the 1960’s she lived in Upper Leeson Street, Dublin, in the house that had once been her father’s home.
“I was brought up Irish, where there was room for my own private world,” Helen once remarked.

Born on 9 August, 1899 in Marlborough, Queensland, Australia her mother was Margaret Agnes Goff; her father, Travers Robert Goff was of Irish descent. He’d often speak to her about his Irish childhood. Sadly he died of influenza when he was in his early forties.

As a child Helen loved animals and reading fairy tales. When she was 17, using the stage name Pamela Lyndon Travers, she travelled throughout Australia and New Zealand, acting in Shakespearian plays. She’d poems published, some of which had Irish themes.

In 1925 she visited Ireland where she met the well-known writer George William Russell, editor of ‘The Irish Statesman’ who published some of her poems. She was introduced to W.B. Yeats and Oliver St. John Gogarty who fostered her life-long interest in Irish mythology.

In her twenties she went to London where she worked as a Fleet Street reporter. One winter she fell ill.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own