Uncle Wiggily Longears is the main character of a series of children’s stories by American author Howard R. Garis. He began writing the stories for the Newark News in 1910. Garis penned an Uncle Wiggily story every day (except Sundays) for more than 30 years, and published 79 books within the author’s lifetime. The books featured work by several illustrators, notably Lansing Campbell. Other illustrators of the series included George L. Carlson, Louis Wisa, Elmer Rache, Edward Bloomfield, Lang Campbell and Mary and Wallace Stover.
Uncle Wiggily, an engaging elderly rabbit, is lame from rheumatism. Wherever he goes, he always relies on a red, white, and blue crutch – described as being “striped like a barber-pole”, or, in later episodes, “his candy-striped walking cane”, with spiral red and white striping like a peppermint candy stick.
Uncle Wiggily is only one of many recurring characters in the series. For example, the Pipsisewah is an unsavory bully that appears as a rhinoceros-like creature. His head has a snout with two small horns and large, snorting nostrils; he wears a black, conical cloth hat and patched scarlet trousers, is somewhat stout, with a giraffe-skin body and bovine tail, and walks upright on two legs. As do the other characters, he has hands, but bears hooves for feet. He is normally accompanied by the crow-like Skeezicks, in his tall red cap and red-and-yellow-striped suit, and the two of them rarely engage in anything other than mischief harmless to the other characters in the storyline. The Bazumpus, the Crozokus, and the Scuttlemagoon appear less frequently, but are just as outlandish as the aforementioned “Pip” and “Skee”, and always require appropriate “handling” by Uncle Wiggily – oftimes with the aid of his animal friends.
There are also several other “bad chaps” in the stories: the Woozy Wolf, Bushy Bear, Skillery Skallery Alligator and the fierce Bobcat, to name but a few. They all seem bent on nibbling the “souse” off of Uncle Wiggily’s ears, but he always escapes. In shorter, more formulaic stories, his escape is generally enabled by some implement he has just purchased at the store – often while on an errand for his muskrat housekeeper, Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy. For example, Uncle Wiggily once used an umbrella to foil the Skillery Skallery Alligator by thrusting it into the creature’s mouth and opening it, thus preventing his biting the old gentleman rabbit.
Uncle Wiggily also encounters amicable animal characters from his neighborhood, such as Sammie and Susie Littletail (Uncle Wiggily’s young nephew and niece), Lulu, Alice, and Jimmie Wibblewobble (duck children), Dr. Possum (local physician), Uncle Butter (goat), Charlie and Arabella Chick, Jackie and Peetie Bow-Wow, Billie and Johnnie Bushytail (squirrel boys), Joie, Tommie, and Kittie Kat, Jennie Chipmunk, Munchie Trot (pony boy), Dottie and Willie Lambkin, Neddie and Beckie Stubtail (friendly bear cubs), as well as many others. In shorter stories, we frequently find Uncle Wiggily helping various of these friends out of some kind of predicament just before one of the bad chaps enters the picture, intent on obtaining “ear-nibbles” from their hapless victims. In longer stories, Uncle Wiggily often is off on a camping trip or other extended journey with one of his friends, fending off repeated incursions or baffling mean-spirited pranks from a lurking villain or two – not uncommonly with the aid of his crutch
or a “thing-a-ma-bob” he happens to have brought along in his satchel.
Most of Garis’s work is now in the public domain and a number of the Uncle Wiggily books are available from Project Gutenberg.