Helen Bannerman

Helen Bannerman books and biography


Helen Bannerman


Helen Bannerman (1862--1946) was the Scottish author of a number of children's books, the most famous being Little Black Sambo.

She was born in Edinburgh and, because women were not admitted as students into British Universities, she sat external examinations set by the University of St. Andrews and attained the qualification of LLA (Lady Literate in Arts). She lived for a good proportion of her life in India, where her husband was an officer in the Indian Medical Service.

The heroes of many of her books are recognisably south Indian or Tamil children from the illustrations. However, despite the plots having no really racist overtones and usually celebrating the intelligence and ingenuity of the children, the name Sambo has become a slur against people of colour and the books have often been banned or censored. As a result of this controversy, a politically correct version co-authored by Fred Marcellino, The Story of Little Babaji, changed the names of the main characters.


  • The Story of Little Black Sambo, 1899
  • Story of Little Black Mingo, 1901
  • Story of little Black Quibba, 1902
  • Little Degchie-Head: An Awful Warning to Bad Babas, 1903
  • Little Kettle-Head, 1904
  • Pat and the Spider, 1905
  • The Teasing Monkey, 1907
  • Little Black Quasha, 1908
  • Story of Little Black Bobtail, 1909
  • Sambo and the Twins, 1936
  • Little White Squibba, 1965 (a rewrite of Little Black Sambo with a white girl as heroine) Elizabeth Hay (1981) wrote that Helen's daughter Day completed the Squibba book from scribbles Helen had written down. (pp.152-153, "Sambo Sahib: The Story of Little Black Sambo and Helen Bannerman")
  • The Story of Little Babaji (with Fred Marcellino), 1996 (Little Black Sambo with more politically correct names), ISBN 0-06-205064-8

External link

  • Works by Helen Bannerman at Project Gutenberg

This article might use material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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