Types of English Children's Literature: Periodicals


Figure 1.--This August 1963 cover from the "Boys Own Paper" was the most popular British publication for boys. It shows that jeans were beginning to become popular for boys in the 1960s. Of this was not clearly an English publication, we may have thought this was an American boy.

Periodicals are a bit different in that they often mix fiction and non-fictional material. There were also many popular annuals and monthly publications with stories by lesser know authors. These annuals seem a particularly English genre. I do not remember comparable American annuals, at least in the 1950s, perhaps such publications were popular ealier. There were monthlys and annuals and omnibus publications which might combine stories, comics, and activity suggestions. Perhaps the most well known was Boys' Own Paper which at first was a weekly publication. This periodical was published for years beginning in 1879. A 1881 issue had articles about famous men (Darwin, Edison, Lubbock, and Whymger) and an article on "Strange weapons and starnge ways of using them". (We are not sure who Lubbock and Whymger were.) I assume that there was a similar girls publication. We notice publications dealing with sports and Scouts. There were also annuals devoted to popular characters like Just William. We also noted different popular themes. Hopefully our British readers will provide us some deatails on the publications that they remember as boys.

English Genre

Periodicals are a bit different in that they often mix fiction and non-fictional material. There were also many popular annuals and monthly publications with stories by lesser know authors. These annuals seem a particularly English genre. I do not remember comparable American annuals, at least in the 1950s, perhaps such publications were popular ealier. There were such publications earlier in America. The pre-Scout organization, the Sons of Daniel Boone was promoted, for example, thgrough a boys' magazine. I am not sure about other countries

Weekly and Monthly Publications

There were various weekly and monthly publications that became very popular with boys. Girls' magazines soon followed. Some magazines aimed a both boys and girls, appeling to families with both boys and girls. These mgazines were primarily composed of stories. Gradually more varied fare was included , combining stories, comics, games, poems, activities, and other features. Many of the weeklys eventually evolved into monthly publications. Many collections of the yearly issues were sold as annuals. Only later wa original material added to these annuals. Perhaps the most well known was the Boys' Own Paper (BOP) which at first was a weekly publication. This periodical was published for years. The Captain was monthly magazine. I'm not sure when it was founded, but believe it was about 1899. It's primary claim to fame among these magazine were regular articles by P G Wodehouse. Chums became involved with promoting Scouting.

Annuals

The best known annuals were probably the Boy's Own Annual and the Girl's Own Annual. While these publications are the best known, there were hundreds of other annuals on a myriad of topics published in Britain, mostly in the first six decades of the 20th century. The annuals, however may have first appeared as early as the 1820s. One literary expert believes that the first English publication with the word 'annual' in the title appaers to have been the Child Companion Annual published in 1824. Other 19th century annuals included Children's Prize (1863), Chatterbox (1863), Boy's Own Annual (1878), Girl's Own Annual (1879), Young England (1880), and Chums (1893). Many of the early annuals were simply bound versions of that publications weekly or monthly editions for the year. Publishers by the turn of the 20th century were producing annuals with original material. Large numbers of annuals on a wide range of topics, but mostly containing adventure stories were published after World War I (1914-18). Annuals were a popular item in Britain through the first half of the 20th century. After the 1950s many became associared with televsion tie ins. The changing economics of the publishing industry affected the tradition of children's annuals in the later part of the 20th century and the genre came to be mostly associated with pop stars that could virtually guarantee sales.

Reader Comments

An Australian reader remembers reading boh these magazines and annuals. (These English publications were widely read in the Dominions like Australia.) "These magazines might be deemed to be for the posh boys of the preparatory or public (private) school universe, but I got to read some through my older brother who used to have them given to him by well meaning uppercrust friends and we two brothers could relate to these books because in the mid to late 1960s Australia was still Empire instilled and we both found the stories and contents wonderful even though we would never get to taste the machinations of the world of uppercrust boys wearing thosefrom Eton collars, peaked caps, and garbadine coats and poshy well polished shoes or playing rugby or cricket at boarding school. I still think, howevr, that these books took me to the world of gentry prestige and position 50 or more years ago. So at least in these books I did join James or Dennis on their grand adventures in the world of long ago and for an hour or more I was transported by all those great adventures."

Sources

Anonymous. Children's Annuals.






Christopher Wagner







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Created: September 5, 2002
Last updated: September 29, 2002