State Library of New South Wales

The Magic Pudding

Pencil, ink and watercolour on paper in 8 bound volumes
Bequest of Sir William Dixson, 1952
DL PXX 49-56

This children’s classic tells the adventures of Bunyip Bluegum the koala, his friends, and Albert, ‘a quarrelsome, endlessly renewable pudding, who can turn himself into any type of pudding your tastebuds desire’. Lindsay’s distinctive drawings and mix of comic verse and satire brilliantly capture the personalities of his characters, including wombats, koalas, bandicoots, crows, kookaburras and other animals of the Australian bush.

First published in 1918, The Magic Pudding has never been out of print. The story has been translated into several different languages and adapted for puppet theatre, an audio book and animated film.

Luminous colours

Notice the colours in Lindsay’s illustrations, still luminous after almost 100 years. Lindsay’s skill in creating these striking colours came from his exacting technique. After transferring his sketched image to the watercolour paper using a pencil-blackened sheet of tissue paper and an etching needle so that he kept the paper as clean as possible, Lindsay wrote out in precise order a list of the colours he planned to use, and then dropped them into the preliminary wash in an exact succession while the wash was still wet. This required great rigour, skill and speed, but the reward was an image of vibrant and unparalleled colour.