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It’s one hundred years since May Gibbs’ much loved gumnut brothers found their way into the hearts and homes of Australians. On 22nd November 1918 we celebrate the publication of May Gibbs’ sixth, and perhaps best known book, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie : their Adventures Wonderful. It is on this day publisher Angus & Robertson sent advance copies of the book to various newspapers for review including The Evening News, Sunday Times and The Bulletin.
Snugglepot and Cuddlepie was Gibbs’ first full length picture book following her popular ‘Bush Baby Books’. These two gumnut brothers had many wonderful adventures and would go on to delight and scare generations of children. With over 10,000 words of text and 22 full-page illustrations, this was Gibbs’ longest storybook to date. Snugglepot and Cuddlepie was an instant success – over 17,000 copies of the first edition were sold and the next two editions continued to be snapped up eagerly by a gumnut greedy public, the book has remained in print ever since.
Barely a week after this quintessentially Australian tale was published (and just in time for Christmas) the following reviews appeared in the Sunday Times, The Bulletin and Sydney Morning Herald:
Here we have the most delightful kiddies' book ever published in Australia; and for it thousands of youngsters of to-day and to-morrow will surely rise up and call Miss May Gibbs blessed.
- THE BOOKMAN: A Real Australian Story Book, Sunday Times, 24 November 1918
Here is a book full of joy and rollicking entertainment for the kiddies. May Gibbs has done it all, both pictures and story; and done it in that charming fashion of hers which has now become so well known … The book brings the bush very close and makes it into a fairyland of true Australian pattern. Nothing better to give the youngsters at Christmas.
- A Satchel of Books, The Bulletin, 5 December 1918
The tales themselves are charming, but by no means the least part of the entertainment is the delightful pictures which adorn every page.
- Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, Sydney Morning Herald, 7 December 1918
The State Library of New South Wales holds a remarkable collection of May Gibbs’ original illustrations, cartoons and literary papers, most of which was deposited into the Mitchell Library in 1970 by the copyright holders, the NSW Society for Crippled Children (now The Northcott Society), and the Spastic Centre of NSW (now the Cerebral Palsy Alliance). These institutions have kindly given the Library permission to digitise the material and publish it on our website.