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Mary Poppins writer took baby because she 'loved Ireland' SUGAR AND SPICE NOT SO NICE FOR TWIN SEPARATED FROM BROTHER BY AUTHOR.

Byline: LYNNE KELLEHER

SHE was the lady who dreamed up Mary Poppins - the flying nanny who loved sugar and spice and all things nice.

But a startling new documentary reveals the author, Pamela Travers, who wrote the book on the benevolent nanny, split up twin Irish boys when she adopted the youngest.

The Australian writer chose between the baby boys by asking a mystic in California to consult their horoscopes and picked her son on his recommendation.

She travelled to Killiney, Dublin, in the late 1930s where she visited the Hone family and returned to her English home with Camillus. His twin, Anthony, was brought up by grandparents.

The acclaimed writer also fell hopelessly in love with Ireland and Irish poet Francis McNamara when she met him in Dublin - but her heart was broken when he married a women half his age.

In a documentary entitled the Shadow Of Mary Poppins, both her adopted son, Camillus, and his twin, Anthony, reveal the heart-ache of being raised in different worlds.

Camillus said he was brought up unaware that he had a twin in Ireland: ''I always knew there was something funny going on. But I could never get the truth from my mum, Pamela, because she was terrified I should ever learn it.''

Anthony Hone, who was brought up in Ireland, said he went looking for his twin brother when he was 17 years old: ''When she took my twin brother out of his cradle and chose him on the turn of a tarot card I think she displayed a lack of sensitivity so I never had much time for her.

''I don't think she understood the consequences or ramifications of what she did to us.

''I found out his name and was drinking in a pub in Chelsea when I discovered he lived across the road. I had a few pints and went and knocked on the door. I think I caused a bit of consternation.''

Camillus attended a public school and was heir to a multi-million pound fortune made from the proceeds of his mother's book and a later deal with Walt Disney.

He said he was shocked to find out he was adopted: ''I felt betrayed, cheated, it took many many years for me to get over it. I was upset to know that for 17 years I had been told a lie.

''I had asked her who this fellow Hone was and I'm pretty sure she told me that my father had died in the tropics.

''As a matter of fact my father (Nat Hone), was alive until 1957 (two years later) and I never met him.''

He said he distinctly remembers Anthony calling to his London home when he was 17: ''He (Anthony) was thrown out by my mother's housekeeper.

''But then Pamela knew the cat was out of the bag. That's when she told me. Then I bumped into him again I said: 'What the devil is going on'.

''He said: 'Oh, don't you know? you're my twin brother'.''

The twins' older brother, Joseph, recalls Pamela's visit to his grandparents' home in 1938.

''She arrived at my grandfather's house in Killiney, south Dublin, and there were two babies in the upstairs room, twins - she had to choose one or the other.

''She could not make a decision, so she consulted an astro-loger in California who looked at their horoscopes and recommended she took the youngest.

''My grand-father - who was a somewhat stingy man - said: 'Go on Pamela take two, they are small'."

But Pamela Travers returned to England with only the youngest boy, robbing the twins of years together.

Anthony, now aged 65, said that in spite of the separation there were many similarities between the twins.

He said: ''He married a girl called Francis and so did I. He had a daughter called Catherine and I had a daughter called Kate.''

The documentary also reveals the troubled childhood of the famous author.

She was born to Meg and Travis Goff, an Englishman, and brought up in Melbourne, Australia.

In later interviews, Pamela would say she came from Irish stock but Camillus says this is not true: ''Her father, Travis, was the son of a broker in London. He'd never been to Ireland.

''But he used to read Yeats to her as bedtime stories. The two of them between them managed to convince each other it was all true.''

Mr Goff worked in a bank just like Mr Banks from the Mary Poppins novel, but was fired from his job because of his drinking.

He died shortly afterwards and seven- year-old Pamela and her two younger sisters were left in the care of their mentally ill mother.

The documentary reveals how Pamela first began inventing stories on the night her mother told her she was going to a nearby creek to kill herself.

The writer, just 10 years old, cuddled her little sisters and thought up a fantasy story about a flying horse to comfort them.

Her mother returned dripping wet but still alive - but the incident had promp-ted her eldest child to retreat in to her imagination.

Camillus said: ''That was the moment my mother discovered she couldn't take things for granted that she had to make up her own story, both in terms of her life and her books.

''My mother's greatest regret, and she never got over it, was the early death of her father. She never understood how God could have allowed her to be deserted by her most loved person so early in her life.''

She left the provincial atmosphere of small town life in Australia and set sail for London in 1924.

There she soon became the darling of the London, Dublin and New York literary set and changed her name from Helen Goff to Pamela Travers.

Her friends describe her as vain, self-effacing, bossy, humourless and fiercely independent just like Mary Poppins.

Her first Mary Poppins book was published in 1934 and dedicated to her mother who had died six years earlier.

Walt Disney had to wrestle with Travers for more than 20 years before she relinquished the rights for her flying Nanny to be immortalised on the silver screen.

The poet George (AE) Russell became her mentor, she was a close friend of WB Yeats and she fell madly in love with the handsome poet Francis McNamara whom she met at one of George Russell's soirees in Dublin.

He was charming and good looking - but a legendary womaniser who last wife was younger than his youngest daughter.

Camillus said: ''Falling in love with Francis, who was a serial adulterer, was a disaster."

In 1937, shortly after she was spurned by Francis McNamara, she travelled to Ireland to find a child to fill the void in her life.

Camillus was a cousin of her lost love Francis McNamara and the grandson of a great friend of Yeats who published her mentor George Russell's works.

Despite his bizarre adoption, Camillus remembers his mother - who spent most of her life travelling with the Navaho Indians in America, living in Japan and other Eastern countries - as quite like her magical nanny.

He said: ''I could see that in a funny sort of way my mother was trying to be like Mary Poppins with me.

"She didn't want to be too kind. She thought kindness killed the cat - but I could always see her tender heart coming out underneath.'' The Shadow Of Mary Poppins will be screened on RTE1 at 10.10pm, Tuesday.

CAPTION(S):

DOCUMENTARY: RTE crews track Pamela Travers in Ireland; TOUGH LOVE: Pamela Travers reading to her adopted son, Camillus. He says she thought that kindness killed the cat; GLAMOUR: Pamela Travers in dance costume; LOVE: Poet Francis McNamara
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Jan 19, 2003
Words:1290
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