Helen Bannerman

Helen Brodie Cowan Bannerman (née Watson; 25 February 1862 – 13 October 1946) was a Scottish author of children's books. She is best known for her first book, Little Black Sambo (1899).

Bannerman was born at 35 Royal Terrace, Edinburgh.[1] She was the eldest daughter and fourth child of seven children of Robert Boog Watson (1823-1910), minister of the Free Church of Scotland and malacologist, and his wife Janet (1831-1912), daughter of Helen Brodie and the papermaker and philanthropist Alexander Cowan.[2] Between the ages of 2 and 12, she lived in Madeira, where her father was minister at the Scottish church.[1] When the family returned, they spent much time with their maternal aunt, Mrs Cowan, at 35 Royal Terrace on Calton Hill.[3]

Because women were not admitted into Scottish universities, she sat external examinations set by the University of St. Andrews, attaining the qualification of Lady Literate in Arts (LLA) in 1887.[1] She then married Dr William Burney Bannerman, a physician and an officer in the Indian Medical Service (IMS).[1] The couple then moved to India in 1889, taking up residence in Madras (modern-day Chennai),[4] capital of the state of Tamil Nadu on the southeastern seacoast, populated mostly by the Tamil ethnic group. During their 30 years in India, they had four children: daughters Janet (b. 1893) and Day (b. 1896), and sons James "Pat" Patrick (b.1900) and Robert (b. 1902).[1]

She died in Edinburgh in 1946 of cerebral thrombosis.[1] She is buried with her husband in Grange Cemetery in south Edinburgh.[citation needed]

She was the grandmother of the physicist Tom Kibble, who discovered the Higgs–Kibble mechanism and the Higgs boson.[citation needed]

The illustrations and settings of Bannerman's books are all about Indians and their culture. Little Black Sambo has ghee, tigers, and a bazaar, The Story of Little Black Mingo has jungle, a mugger (a kind of crocodile), a dhobi, and a mongoose, Little Black Quasha has a bazaar and tigers, and The Story of Little Black Quibba has mangoes and elephants.