May Gibbs

May Gibbs: an Australian classic

Gumnut babies books

Snugglepot & Cuddlepie

The best known of May Gibbs' work, Snugglepot & Cuddlepie: their adventures wonderful, was published in 1918 by Angus & Robertson. This enchanting story of two little gumnut brothers and their friends, set in the Australian bush, captured the hearts and imaginations of generations of children. Offering lessons for its young readers, the story balanced good with evil by introducing the bad Banksia Men and Mrs Snake. There was also an underlying conservation message: “Humans, please be kind to all Bush creatures and don't pull flowers up by the roots”.

Snugglepot and Cuddlepie : their Adventures Wonderful / Pictures and words by May Gibbs.

Although already an established author and illustrator, Gibbs still had to endure the uncertainty of awaiting the publisher's verdict on her manuscript:

"When may I hear the results of your consideration of the book "Snugglepot and Cuddlepie? Everything is ready and I'm just longing to get on with it..."

- May Gibbs to Mr Shenstone, Angus & Robertson papers, MLMSS 314/33

Gumnut babies books

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Gibbs dedicated the book to ‘Lefty and Bill’ which were nicknames for her beloved mother and father. When the book was released in late 1918 it was an enormous success with the first, second and third editions selling out almost immediately. 

May Gibbs continued the story of her gumnut babies and their bushland fantasy in two subsequent stories – Little Ragged Blossom (1920) and Little Obelia (1921). Much was borrowed from her earlier unpublished manuscripts, particularly John Dory: His Story written about 10 years earlier. In 1940 the three books were combined into one volume, The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, which remains one of Australia’s most popular children’s classics to this day.

Selections from Snugglepot and Cuddlepie

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> See more of May Gibbs' original manuscript for Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, from the Library's Angus & Robertson papers