Helen Bannerman (born Brodie Cowan Watson) was the Scottish author of a number of children's books, the most famous being Little Black Sambo. She was born in Edinburgh and, because women were not admitted as students into British Universities, she sat external examinations set by the University of St. Andrews and attained the qualification of LLA. She lived for a good proportion of her life in India, where her husband was an officer in the Indian Medical Service.

The heroes of many of her books are recognizably south Indian or Tamil children from the illustrations. However, despite the plots having no really racist overtones and usually celebrating the intelligence and ingenuity of the children, the name Sambo has become a slur against people of colour and the books have often been banned or censored. As a result of this controversy, a politically correct version co-authored by Fred Marcellino, The Story of Little Babaji, changed the names of the main characters.