May Gibbs | State Library of New South Wales

May Gibbs: an Australian classic

May Gibbs (1877-1969), author, illustrator and cartoonist, has captured the hearts and imaginations of generations of Australians with her lovable bush characters and fanciful landscapes. Her iconic children's literature and folklore is still as popular as ever, holding a special place in the Australian consciousness. Best known for The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, Gibbs also wrote and illustrated many other children's books, produced long-running cartoon strips and a variety of commercial work. A fiercely determined woman, she was Australia's first full-time, professionally trained children's book illustrator, developing an uniquely Australian fantasy vernacular which is relevant now as it was then. In 1955, May Gibbs was appointed Member of the British Empire (MBE) in acknowledgement of her important contribution to children’s literature.

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The State Library 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 Northcott Disability Services) 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. We hope this will introduce May Gibbs and her iconic Australian work to a whole new audience.

> Find out more about May Gibbs' early life in Perth and her art training in London
Early life

> See some of May Gibbs' unpublished works including Mimie and Wog
Unpublished works

> View May Gibbs' early commercial work and World War I postcards
Commercial art

> See May Gibbs' iconic published works including Snugglepot & Cuddlepie
Published author

> Find out more about May Gibbs' career as a newspaper cartoonist and columnist
Newspaper cartoonist

> See a selection of May Gibbs' gumnut-inspired merchandise


> Find more digitised illustrations by May Gibbs, via the Library's online catalogue catalogue link

May Gibbs: an Australian classic is made possible through the generous support of The Nutcote Trust and Graham & Charlene Bradley, and various benefactors.

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May Gibbs
Made possible through a partnership with The Nutcote Trust and Graham & Charlene Bradley, and various benefactors