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.

‘This is the funniest children’s book ever written … I’ve been laughing at it for fifty years, and when I read it again this morning, I laughed as much as I ever did… You can feel Lindsay carried away on the wings of his own energy.’*

Philip Pullman, prize-winning children’s book author, 2004


Written almost 100 years ago, The Magic Pudding remains one of the highest selling Australian children’s books. And yet its author Norman Lindsay described it as a ‘little bundle of piffle’.

The Magic Pudding is divided into four ‘slices’ instead of chapters.

In 1985 a postage stamp with an illustration from The Magic Pudding book was issued by Australia Post as part of a set of five stamps commemorating children's books. What children’s books do you think should have their own stamp?

Norman Lindsay allegedly wrote The Magic Pudding to settle an argument with a friend who thought that children only liked to read about fairies. Lindsay was convinced they preferred to read about food. 

Actor Sam Neill played a fictionalised version of Norman Lindsay in John Duigan's movie Sirens (1994), filmed within the grounds of Lindsay’s home, Springwood, in the Blue Mountains. He also played the voice of Sam Sawnoff in the Magic Pudding movie (2000).

Magic Pudding Place is a street in the Blue Mountains suburb of Faulconbridge. Norman Lindsay lived nearby from 1901 until his death in 1969.

An animated movie was released in 2000, with actors John Cleese providing the voice of the Pudding, Hugo Weaving as Bill, Geoffrey Rush as Bunyip, and Sam Neill as Sam. The film did not follow the plot of the book and was not a financial or critical success.

When released in 1918, a copy of The Magic Pudding cost one guinea (25 shillings or $2). With that same amount, you could buy one pair of ladies’ boots or 234 copies of the Sydney Morning Herald.

In 2008 the date of 12 October was named Pudding Day — a day to celebrate the publication of the Magic Pudding book.