“Aunt Sass,” known to Travers as “Ellie” and to the rest of the world as Helen Morehead Christina Saraset (“Sass for short”) was Travers’ great-aunt and unconscious inspiration for Mary Poppins. (Travers published the first Mary Poppins story in 1934). It wasn’t until later in her life that Travers realized she had mined aspects of Aunt Sass for her famous creation.
“I thought to myself, ‘Some day, in spite of her, I shall commit the disrespectful vulgarity of putting Aunt Sass in a book.’ And then it occurred to me that this had already been done, though unconsciously and without intent. We write more than we know we are writing. We do not guess at the roots that made our fruit. I suddenly realized that there is a book through which Aunt Sass, stern and tender, secret and proud, anonymous and loving, stalks with her silent feet,” wrote Travers. “You will find her occasionally in the pages of Mary Poppins.”
The Modern Classics edition out this Christmas will include two other stories that Travers privately printed in runs of 500 copies for Christmas gifts for family and friends: “Ah Wong,” from 1943 and “Johnny Delaney” in 1944.
Browse related collectible books:
Reprinted with permission from Fine Books & Collections, author Nate Pedersen
Rare Finds are a special feature from Biblio and the wonderful writers at Fine Books & Collections. Visit their site to see more about the rare book trade.