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All About Gollywogs

The History and Meaning of Gollywogs.

 

This page is devoted to Gollywogs.

 

What is a Gollywog ? ?

 

The Collins Australian Dictionary defines a Gollywog as

                    "... a black faced, goggle eyed fantastically dressed doll... "

The Macquarie Australian Dictionary defines a Gollywog as

                    "... a soft, black faced doll... "

 

 

 

Where Do Gollywogs Come From?

 

Florence Upton is accredited with Creating the Gollywog.

 

Florence Upton was born in New York to English Parents in 1873.

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Florence Upton

Upon the death of her father in 1889 she and her Mother, Bertha, returned to England.

In 1895 at the age of 22, Florence illustrated her first book, written by her mother.

It was called the Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls and it involved a Gollywogg.

The book was a children's story about Florence's own childhood dolls.

These dolls, including the Gollywogg, are now housed at Chequers, the British Prime Minister's country residence. 

 

Florence is credited at naming the Gollywoggs, by altering the word Pollywog.

Pollywog was a dialect word meaning wiggle head, which meant "tadpole".  The word was originally "pol" meaning head, and "wiggle", becoming waggle, becoming wag, becoming wog, over many, many years.

Some say Gollywog  was used due to the somewhat surprised look on the doll's face,

as if it was saying "Golly", which is an English exclamation of surprise.

Florence and her mother had 13 Gollywogg Books published between 1895 and 1909.

They were an incredibly popular children's book.

Florence Upton died in 1922, and was buried near her home in Hamstead.

On her gravestone are engraved the words,

 

Florence Upton

Creator of the Famed Gollywogg

 

 

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Above is an illustration in the Florence Upton book Two Dutch Dolls in 1895.

 

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Above are Florence Upton's childhood dolls, Peggy and Sarah Jane, with the Original Gollywogg.

These dolls are now housed in a glass case at Chequers, the British Prime Minister's country residence.

 

How Did Gollywogs Get So Famous?

 

Apart from the popularity in the 1890's by the sale of Florence Upton's books, another English Writer, probably the most famous and successful writer of all time, Enid Blyton, recreated the lovable but naughty Gollywog from the 1940's until the late 1960's.

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Enid Blyton

 

Enid Blyton was born in London 11th August 1897. Enid was a teacher and writer, and published her first book in 1922 called Child Whispers, a poetry book for children. In 1938 she published her first longer books for older children, Mr Galliano's Circus and the Secret Island.

Over the next six years, almost all of her major series were begun.

Noddy, The Secret Seven, The Famous Five, The Adventure Series, The Secret Series, Malory Towers, St Clare's, The Faraway Tree, The Wishing Chair and many other.

Enid Blyton died in 1968.

She had become the most prolific author of all time, and with more than 700 books and 10,000 short stories, she is likely to remain so. She sold more than 400 million copies.

Florence Upton's Gollywoggs were spelt with a double g, whereas thirty years later in the 1940's Enid Blyton's Gollywogs had only one g.

So during the Second World War, the Noddy series commenced, and the Gollywogs became a living thing to millions of children all over the world throughout the 1940's, 1950's and into the 1960's.

Some of the Naughty Gollywogs lived in the Dark, Dark Woods near Toyland, but many of them lived in Gollywog Town.

 

 

 

 

Where Did Gollywogs Go?

 

For some reason or another, in the 1980's and beyond, the Gollywogs became an endangered species. Whatever the reason, whether it was the climate, or their habitat, they were becoming very scarce.

Take for example the Noddy Book Titled, Hurrah for Little Noddy.

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You can clearly see two Gollywogs on the book's front cover, along with Mr Plod, Big Ears, Noddy and another policeman.

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In the reprinted version, above right, the Gollywog has gone, and in his place is a Moonface type character. The Gollywogs have completely disappeared from the book altogether.

Were they allergic to the newer style of ink ??? 

Or is it the new processes and chemicals in the manufacturing of the paper that is detrimental to their health???

 

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On closer inspection it could be something else. Above on the left is a picture of Gollywog Town, with happy Gollywogs everywhere, even a Gollywog Statue. In the reprinted version, the town has been over run by monkeys, the statue has been changed, and they even call the town Monkey Town.

There is not one Gollywog in site, not even one Gollywog in the whole book.

Could the Gollywogs and Monkeys have swapped homes?

 

Endangered Species

 

The Government has now officially declared the Gollywog as an Endangered Species.

They are finally a protected species, and have their own National Forests and Dark Dark Woods to live in far away from the prying eyes of the general population.

Here in Australia, the Victorian Government has set aside the Chiltern Box Ironbark Forest for the protection of endangered species.

It is not like Enid Blyton's Enchanted Forest, it is a real life Australian Endangered Species Forest.

Now together in the Chiltern Forest live the nearly extinct Regent Honeyeater, the Square Tailed Kite, the Swift Parrot, the Turquoise Parrot, the Scarlet Chested Parrot, and the Fantastically Dressed Gollywog.

Chiltern is a beautiful quaint, and quiet little historic gold mining town, approximately 280 kilometres north of Melbourne.

It is completely surrounded by the Chiltern Forest. Some of the more adventurous Gollywogs have left the safety of the forest to come to town in an attempt to see the world. Can you help them?

These extremely well dressed Golliwogs may be found at the Chiltern Golliwog Gallery, inside Duffas Dinkum Den D'Arts. To see these magnificent Gollywogs, click on the links below to the Gollywog Gallery.

 

 

 

 

 

Gollywogs

Gollywog Gallery Gollywog History
Gollywog Gallery 2 Order Form

 

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