The Magic Pudding has been a source of wonder and amusement for nearly 90 years: no matter how much the reader gets out of the story, there is, as with the Pudding itself, always something left.
But to its author, artist and writer, Norman Lindsay (1879–1969), the book was a ‘little bundle of piffle’. Written as a distraction from the horrors of World War 1 and his brother’s death on the Somme, he thought it held him back as a serious writer.
The story arose out a professional disagreement Lindsay had with fellow writer, Bertram Stevens, who thought that fairies were the most popular subject for a children’s story. Lindsay believed it was food. The pudding won.
The original artwork is derived from 102 drawings Lindsay made for the book in pencil, ink and watercolour.
The first edition was a limited-edition art book, costing the relatively high sum of £110. Lindsay opposed the cost: ‘I wouldn’t have minded if it had come out as a kids’ book, to be sold at a price that would allow the kid to tear it up with a clear conscience’.
Norman Lindsay (1879–1969)Original illustrations for The Magic Pudding, c.1918
crayon, pen and wash drawings mounted in large albums; 47.0 x 40.0cm
Bequeathed by Sir William Dixson, 1952
Dixson Library, State Library of New South Wales