Legacy of May Gibbs, Mother of the Gumnuts

by Gaith Bader - Published on: 17 January 2009
Categories: Writer's News
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Published on: 17 January 2009

Book cover: May Gibbs: Mother of the Gumnuts May Gibbs, one of Australia’s most treasured children’s authors, continues to captivate the hearts and imaginations of generations of Australians. Her delightful stories of the Australian bush are populated by gumnut and wildflower babies, koalas, possums, bull ants and beetles, kind old lizards, evil snakes and the wicked and cruel Banksia Men.

And May’s influence goes far beyond children’s writing. As Maureen Walsh writes, Gibbs’ “bush babies-those little plump bare-bottomed figures with their gumnut hats or ragged-blossom skirts and their wide blue eyes-have become national symbols; gumnut words like ‘deadibones’ have entered the language; and for decades adults have remembered with a smile as they walked in the bush, the fearful respect with which they once regarded banksia trees.”

Apart from permeating our perceptions of the bush, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, their cousins Bib and Bub and a host of other creatures have been helping thousands of children and adults with disabilities in NSW and ACT thanks to May Gibbs’ legacy. On her death in 1969, she left the copyright of all her works jointly to Northcott Disability Services (previously known as The NSW Society for Crippled Children) and The Spastic Centre of NSW. The 17th January 2009 marks the 131st anniversary of May’s birth and the event will be celebrated on Sunday (18th January) at ‘Nutcote’, May Gibbs’ family home in Neutral Bay.

A special invitation is extended to children of all ages and Scotties (and their owners).

May Gibbs: Mother of the Gumnuts

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