LINDSAY, Norman (1879-1969)
The Magic Pudding (first edition, second issue)
: being the adventures of Bunyip Bluegum and his friends Bill Barnacle & Sam Sawnoff. Sydney : Angus & Robertson, 1918. Quarto, quarter blue cloth over papered boards (waterstain to upper and lower edges of upper board), in fine original illustrated dust jacket (a couple of light stains, very minor chipping to head and foot of spine, expert paper restoration to splits to folds verso), plain cream endpapers (lightly foxed), previous owner’s name to front free endpaper, book label of James Fairfax, colour title page, 171 pp, illustrated throughout by Lindsay, waterstain across the lower and upper margins of the text block, else a clean and well presented copy of the first edition in the original dust jacket.
The Magic Pudding is without doubt the most famous Australian children’s book ever published, and for nearly a century has never been out of print.
The iconic characters of Bunyip Bluegum, Sam Sawnoff, Bill Barnacle and of course the Pudding have delighted children and adults for nearly a century. ‘No matter how much the reader gets out of the story, there is, as with the Pudding itself, always something left’ (National Treasures from Australia’s Great Libraries, Canberra : National Library of Australia, 2005, p. 130).
It is well documented how the idea of the Pudding was first cooked. Lindsay’s friend and editor of Art in Australia Bertram Stevens claimed fairies were the most popular characters for children’s books (an Outhwaite reference), while Lindsay thought characters based on food were more loved. To prove his point, he wrote the book and completed the 102 illustrations in 1917, and immediately upon publication in 1918 it was hailed a success, somewhat to the embarrassment of Lindsay. Published in large format, with a dust jacket, it was designed to appeal to the art collector as much as the child. 3000 copies were printed, but bound at different times, and as such some copies have white endpapers, rather than bearing the A & R monogram, and are lettered in black on the spine. The present copy is an example of the second issue, with the plain endpapers and spine; it is also slightly shorter than the first issue.
Jane Lindsay (1920-1999, later Jane Glad), the eldest daughter of Norman and Rose Lindsay, recounts in her biography of her father Portrait of Pa : Norman Lindsay at Springwood (Sydney : Angus & Robertson, 1973, p. 45) childhood memories of learning to read through Norman reading aloud The Magic Pudding to her and her sister. ‘We were allowed to appear at eleven o’clock in the studio. Pa put his feet up on the mantelpiece and reached for The Magic Pudding. This was our introduction to Pa’s most important work of juvenile fiction. The fact that our own Pa had written it did not impress us at all. I doubt if we realised that he was the inventor of the book’s collection of crazy characters. We just enjoyed them the way thousands of other children have been enjoying them all these years.’
A well presented copy of the great Australian classic.
Muir 4263; People, Print & Paper, 229.