The Golliwogg originally appeared in the books of mother
and daughter Bertha and Florence Upton. It was based on a
then nameless black/negro minstrel doll that Florence
Upton had played with as a small child in New York.
Florence Upton had originally begun to sketch out ideas
for a children’s book, using ‘penny wooden’ dolls as her
models. However, without a central character on which to
hang the tale, progress came to a standstill. Her Aunt
Kate Hudson had a rummage in the attic and unearthed an
old toy that had belonged to the Upton children, left
behind from an earlier visit.
This battered but much-loved rag doll, dressed like a
Dickensian gentleman, whispered his name in Florence’s
ear: "As the Golliwogg has always seemed to me to be
telling me his own biography, so in the same way he must
have told me his own name….I picked him up from the
table in my studio, and without intention of naming him,
without the idea of a name passing through my mind, I
called him 'Golliwogg'."
However, the Uptons did not copyright the name
Golliwogg, and the image entered into public domain. So,
even though Golliwog's name was originally spelt with two
'g's, it is thought that the second 'g' was eventually
dropped to avoid any possible infringement of copyright
laws by publishers and manufacturers who were using his
name for their products.
Since the Golliwogg name was changed to Golliwog, he has
gone on to become a common toyland character in children's
books and toys.
Some common misspellings of Golliwog/Golliwogs include
Gollywog/Gollywogs, Golliewog/Golliewogs and
Golewog/Golewogs, and the name is often abbreviated to
either Golly/Gollys or Gollie/Gollies.