Wombles story books

Children’s author Elisabeth Beresford had the idea for The Wombles while walking on Wimbledon Common with her children, Kate and Marcus. At the time she lived in south London, though she later moved to Alderney, one of the Channel Islands off the north coast of France.

There were five novels and a short story collection:

  • The Wombles (1968)
  • The Wandering Wombles (1970)
  • The Wombles at Work (1973)
  • The Invisible Womble and Other Stories (1973)
  • The Wombles to the Rescue (1974)
  • The Wombles Go Round the World (1976)

Four of the books were illustrated by Margaret Gordon. All of these were out of print for many years until they were republished by Bloomsbury, from 2010 to 2011, along with the 1973 short-story collection The Invisible Womble, with all-new illustrations by Nick Price. The last two books are less well-known than the original four, perhaps because they appeared after the successful television series began.



The original 1968 hardback book, simply titled The Wombles, was illustrated by Margaret Gordon with the Wombles looking like teddy bears – brown and furry, mostly not wearing clothes.

When the 1973 animated Wombles series was in pre-production, a decision was made to change the design of the characters so that they did not resemble teddy bears, as it was felt that there were too many children’s shows with teddy bear characters. There is a reference in the first book to dark brown being the colour of their fur (with the exception of the oldest Wombles whose fur turns white) but this was changed to silvery grey, save for the neck, which is black. Some of the toys and book illustrations do not show the black fur on the neck.

The Wombles at Work (1973) was illustrated by Barry Leith, who worked on set design for the original FilmFair series. The appearance of the Wombles in the books followed the design of the Ivor Wood TV puppets, with the exception of original editions of The Wombles (1968) and first printings of The Wandering Wombles, which preceded the TV series and depicted the Wombles as teddy bear-like creatures.

For the paperback of The Wandering Wombles in 1974, Puffin used new illustrations by Margaret Gordon, “drawn from Ivor Wood’s original film puppets”.

In 1975, Barry Leith took over as illustrator, continuing with the new-look Wombles based on the TV series. For the 1990 editions, Walker Books kept the same illustrations, with new covers by Edgar Hodges.

Brand new editions with fresh illustrations by Nick Price were released by Bloomsbury Publishing in 2010 and 2011.

Beresford wrote a collection of short stories entitled The Invisible Womble and Other Stories (1973); these stories were based on episodes from the TV series, although they occasionally refer to events in the novels.

In addition to these books, many annuals, picture books and children’s early readers have been published over the years, some of which were also written by Beresford.



Book 1: The Wombles

Puffin Books: “The Wombles live under Wimbledon Common, and it is their special responsibility to ‘tidy up’ everything that untidy Human Beings leave behind them.”

Ernest Benn (1975 edition): “Have you ever seen a Womble? Their television appearances have made several of the Wombles, who live in a comfortable burrow under Wimbledon Common, well-known to millions of viewers. But you might have already seen Bungo, or Orinoco, Wellington, or even Great Uncle Bulgaria, hard at work keeping the Common tidy. It is the cast-offs of Human Beings – chocolate biscuits thrown out of prams, parts of bicycles that have fallen off, and old copies of The Times (Great Uncle Bulgaria’s favourite reading) – that provide the Wombles with the necessities of life. Of course, from time to time things do run out, but Tobermory, who is in charge of the Workshop, is expert at making things from bits and pieces with his clever paws, and Madame Cholet, the cook, can turn almost anything into a delicious meal – a talent which Orinoco particularly appreciates! So life goes on very pleasantly under the Common – for most of the time, that is…”

Walker Books: “Here they are, the tidy inhabitants of Wimbledon Common whose exploits have delighted readers and TV viewers for years. Meet Great Uncle Bulgaria, the white-furred chief Womble; handyman Tobermory, who turns people’s litter into the most amazingly useful things; Tomsk, the golfing Womble; tubby Orinoco, who loves food and forty winks; Madame Cholet, the cook, and last but by no means least, young Bungo, who’s just about to go out on the Common alone for the first time…”

Bloomsbury: “The Wombles live in a warm and cosy burrow beneath Wimbledon Common. They like nothing better than a good tidy-up and luckily the Wombles’ burrow is the perfect place to sort and recycle all the rubbish that careless Human Beings leave behind! One day, two of the younger Wombles, Bungo and Orinoco, venture on to the Common for the first time. Large and noisy dogs and dangerously windy weather are just the beginning of many adventures!”

  1. Bungo
  2. Orinoco and the black umbrella
  3. The tree that moved
  4. Tomsk hangs on
  5. Bungo and the concrete mixer
  6. Orinoco and the rabbit hole
  7. The Christmas party and Mr D. Smith
  8. The snow Womble
  9. Orinoco and the chocolate cake
  10. Bungo’s great adventure
  11. Yellowstone Womble
  12. Great Uncle Bulgaria’s day out
  13. Tobermory’s surprise and the Midsummer party
1968 - Illustrated by Margaret Gordon
1975, Illustrator Barry Leith - new-look Wombles based on the TV series
1990 - new covers by Edgar Hodges
2010 - illustrations by Nick Price
Gift edition

Book 2: The Wandering Wombles

Puffin Books: “‘We shall have to move,’ said Great Uncle Bulgaria simply, looking his old friend steadily in the face. ‘Move? Us?’ said Tobermory. ‘But we’ve lived under Wimbledon Common for hundreds of years. There’ve been burrows here since any Womble can remember. It’s unthinkable.’ But their home was being shaken to pieces, so scouting parties were sent into strange country seeking for a new home.”

Walker Books: “Here they are again, the tidy inhabitants of Wimbledon Common whose exploits have delighted readers and TV viewers for years. When building work threatens the Wombles’ burrow, Great Uncle Bulgaria decides it’s time to move. Orinoco and Bungo are sent off on a top secret scouting mission to Scotland where they meet the fierce Clan Wombles. Meanwhile, Wellington and Tomsk find themselves exploring the gardens of a Very Important Person indeed!”

Bloomsbury: “The Wombles live in a warm and cosy burrow beneath Wimbledon Common. They like nothing better than a good tidy-up and luckily the Wombles’ burrow is the perfect place to sort and recycle all the rubbish that careless Human Beings leave behind! Bungo and Orinoco have been chosen by Great Uncle Bulgaria for a dangerous and exciting task. The Wombles’ beautiful burrow is under threat. It is up to Orinoco and Bungo to find a new home for the Wombles – and fast!”

  1. The enormous lorry
  2. O W W
  3. Fresh fields and pastures new
  4. The great adventure
  5. Captured
  6. Great Uncle Bulgaria’s great idea
  7. Tomsk and Wellington set out
  8. The MacWomble
  9. Nessie
  10. Wellington’s discovery
  11. Troubles
  12. Bungo is happy again
  13. The Wandering Wombles
  14. The new burrow
  15. Great Uncle Bulgaria looks ahead
1970 - Illustrated by Oliver Chadwick
1974 - Illustrated by Margaret Gordon
1974 - Illustrated by Margaret Gordon
2010 - Illustrated by Nick Price

Tidy Bag


Remembering The Wombles

All the latest news and information on classic kids’ TV and pop stars The Wombles, including a collection of Wombles memorabilia.

A site by Tara Stockford – Wombleologist

Main Research Source
Other Reference Links
What have we learnt?

My kids love these books and they have inspired much creative play.

We found a PDF of the first book at The Readers Library .

We also found them to be available at the Books to Borrow collection at Internet Archive which you can join for free, and borrow the books an hour at a time, enough for a chapter or two.