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School friend annual 1964

February 12, 2016

The things you find when you start to declutter! School friend annual 1964 is a blast from my very distant past. Yes, I know, some of you weren’t born then, but I can’t resist sharing the sort of books produced for young girls in the olden days! I loved receiving annuals and anthologies, books in my favourite series or by my favourite authors. The more books I received, the more successful I rated my Christmas. Anyhow, it’s fascinating to look at this over 50 years after it was published.

School Friend AnnualSchool friend annual was an English publication which was also distributed in New Zealand, South Africa, and the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Loyal countries of the British Commonwealth, in other words. As far as I can tell it started publication in 1927 and lasted until 1982 by which time I believe it was all comic/picture strip. One article I read suggested that the 1960s are the most collectible!

I’m going to discuss the main contents of my 1964 volume by rough category, so we can look at the reading matter deemed suitable for the young girl and teen of the early to mid 1960s. It’s a time when the Beatles were starting to make their presence felt, when the Civil Rights Movement in America was well under way, but when the second wave of women’s liberation hadn’t really started:

School Friend Annual 1964Stories (Prose or verse)

  • Lucky Black Horse, by Cecil Danby: young girls and horses, then, and still now!
  • The Ballerina from Nowhere: this would have been one of my favourite stories (told in verse in fact) as I adored ballet and loved ballet books and ballet stories. No horses for me. It was ballet all the way. The ballerina illustrated is very nicely developed, which was something for skinny-rake me (at the time) to aim for.
  • A Christmas Carol, from the famous story by Charles Dickens: an excerpt.
  • The loneliest girl in town, by Christine Landon: about the new girl in town who wants to join the dashing looking scooter club. This is a teen story, with such writing as ‘”Haven’t you ever realised why Gloria can’t stand you, Mandy?” she asked merrily, “It’s because you’re heaps pretty than she is. She was scared you’d be a rival.”‘ I don’t suppose writers of contemporary children’s books have their protagonists talking “merrily”, do they?
  • The legend of the fire-bird, illustrated by Mollie Higgins.
  • The girl who went back to 1066, by Evelyn Day: a time travel story.
  • Tropical Magic: A cruise in the sun – the story of a hair stylist at sea, by Janet McKibben: about an Island Chief in the Indian Ocean wanting his daughters’ hair to be dressed western style!
  • The midnight feast, by Gwen Perrott: besides the ballet stories, my other favourite stories were school stories – and if they had a midnight feast, all the better
  • Ladybird’s alibi, by Frances Cowen: a detective story involving teens staying with relations: “Uncle George and Aunt Mary are dears, and almost make up for our not being about to spend our holidays with Father and Mother in Ceylon”. Love the language – “dears” – and the social history here, with the parents in Ceylon, another part of the British Commonwealth.
  • The Fisherman’s Daughter, by Percy Clarke: an historical adventure story about a missing father, a strange lady in black and a foreign lugger.
  • Mysterious neighbours, by Hilary Bailey: a contemporary neighbourhood story.
  • All because of Cora, by Frances Lindsay: about a girl in a school choir who wants to be a singer, and her jealous rival.

Stories (Comic form)

  • Dilly Dreem – she’s a scream and Mitzi and Fritzi: short comics, interspersed through the annual.
  • Tracy on the road: a longer story about teenage fashion models. It’s all about a race to be first at a fashion show, but when their competitors run someone off the road, they stop to help. “Luckily”, we are told, “the girls had changed into casual clothes”.
  • The Sparrows of Angel Street: about a street decoration competition
  • My school friend Sara in A dazzling display: I suspect “My school friend Sara” is a series that ran through several annuals.
  • The tomboy next door: what it says – and it would have appealed to me.
  • Camera-mad Carol: about a school girl who wins a camera.

Crafts and cooking

  • Present surprise: add a touch of tinsel: ideas for wrapping presents and Christmas decorations to make.
  • Enticing with icing: how to pretty up a cake with lots of icing – “with a bit of care, imagination and a pound of icing sugar you an turn quite ordinary fare into delicious treats to surprise your guests”. I wonder how many pre-teens, as I was, had guests they cooked for?!
  • Craft articles: two with Practical Prue, make a Pepper ‘n Salt Stand out of raffia, and how turn a dull tray into a “gay” one, plus another article on how to weave yourself a lampshade.

Fashion advice

  • Pretty up a plain dress in six gay ways: oh the changes in language we have experienced! Anyhow, this illustrated article, as they all are, shows how you can sew on lace, add a scarf or a belt, or a frill.
  • A style for your shape: illustrated article on choosing a hairstyle to suit your face shape. After all “let’s face it, it’s your hair that tops off your final appearance”. Haha!
  • Sally Brook’s Variety Act: for example, when buying a coat “don’t have a big collar … they seem to swamp young people”. And “Buying beads isn’t wise, if you have little money to spend on jewellery. Fashions change too quickly. If you want a necklace that you can wear on and on, and which always looks nice, save up for a single row of artificial pearls”. Or, for the same reason, avoid the long chains and medallions, in lieu of “a small chain with a locket or tiny pendant. Our Grandmas wore them, and they’re still being worn today.” (I’m afraid I didn’t take Sally’s advice when I got to the age a few years later – I bought the “in” chunky medallions and long chains! I still have some!)

General interest

  • Pets and their people: a celebrity story containing photos of celebrities like photogpraher Cecil Beaton, actor Hayley Mills and singer Adam Faith.
  • The seven ages of a ballerina: a story in pictures about learning ballet from beginning to being a starring ballerina, “her triumphant/dream-come-true/Reward for practising”.

So, plenty of illustrations, a few comics, a variety of stories covering a range of interests, plus the specific inclusion of horses, ballerinas, craft ideas and, most importantly, fashion advice. What more could a young girl want over the school holidays?

School friend annual 1964
London: Fleetway Publications, 1963
126pp.

30 Comments leave one →
  1. February 12, 2016 11:57 pm

    In my last couple of years in primary school – 1961,62 – I got a Boys Own newspaper from England, monthly I suppose, and I forget the exact name, but with stories about public school boys and comic strips – a space pilot (Flash Gordon?) and a family of truckies, Knights of the Road. I also have annuals and I found second hand Girls annuals of a similar vintage to yours for my daughters when they were 12 or 13. The stories have an innocence which seems to have gone out of date which I wanted them to experience.

    • February 13, 2016 7:54 am

      They do, Bill, I found it fascinating but, of course, having lived through it not totally surprising.

      But darn it. I’d forgotten that I’d scheduled this to post! I was going to edit it a little. Oh well … I’ll move on to the next post now.

  2. ian darling permalink
    February 13, 2016 1:36 am

    It sounds like the annual had quite a lot to read in it. Its a fascinating piece about a really interesting subject- as any admirer of Orwell’s Boy’s Weeklies would be bound to say! I see the Commonwealth angle is laid on quite hard. I wonder if Australians read the DC Thompson comics I remember – Beano, Beezer, The Dandy. Or the girl’s comics my sister used to get – Jackie or Bunty. I remember the Beano as being the best with the splendidly anarchic Bash Street Kids….and what about Desperate Dan. Nostalgia!

    • February 13, 2016 7:57 am

      Orwell’s Boys’ Weeklies, Ian. I didn’t know those. I wasn’t a big reader of comics. I do recollect some being around but I can’t recollect whether those were ones or whether I’d read about them in English books. My suspicion given our love of all things British though is that they were.

  3. February 13, 2016 4:12 am

    Wow! Is that jam-packed! What a delightful find. Do you remember any of the stories at all? I would have loved the ballerina stories too. I had a close-and-play record player when I was 6 and a friend of the family gave me a pink tutu and ballet slippers and I would play Tina the Ballerina on my record player over and over and dance around the house in my tutu and slippers. It seems there was no photographic evidence of my obsession for which I am mostly glad. 🙂

    • February 13, 2016 8:00 am

      Good question Stefanie … I remember only the ballet stories AND when I saw it the article about how to pretty up one dress in different ways came back.

  4. February 13, 2016 5:19 am

    What a lovely, lovely post! You seem to have had fantastic holidays. And, there is nothing more pleasing than finding old, precious stuff, when one is not particularly looking for it. 🙂

    • February 13, 2016 8:01 am

      That’s true Deepika. And now I’ve found it I don’t think I’ll be able to let it go.

  5. Meg permalink
    February 13, 2016 10:05 am

    What great memories surfaced after reading your blog. I now have on the floor my various assortment of several old annuals, both for boys and girls and young children. To name a few, Champion books for Boys and Champion books for Girls. Others include Sport for Girls, 1951. The Sunshine Book for Girls 1962 has an article on how to be, “Be Beautiful! Start With Your Hair. Though, my favourite annual is Chums 1932-1933. I have also The School Paper magazines supplied by the Victorian Education Department. They are for Grades 111 and 1V, and Grades V11 and V111, both for 1954.

    • February 13, 2016 10:36 am

      Haha, I love it Meg … it’s fascinating to go back and look at them isn’t it? The things we remember and those we’ve forgotten. How naive it seems now, and yet for our parents generation it was getting rather “fast”!

  6. February 13, 2016 8:05 pm

    Oh this is adorable!! Your love of ballet stories reminds me of how excited I’d always be if gymnastics featured in a book!

    • February 13, 2016 10:33 pm

      Oh, I’m glad it’s adorable, Hannah — love that you can relate via gymnastics.

  7. February 13, 2016 8:10 pm

    When I was a young reader (in the seventies) I somehow acquired a couple of English annual-type books. I loved them, although I had nothing as teen-focussed as yours. I would have adored that one!

    • February 13, 2016 10:36 pm

      That’s interesting, Michelle. Funny how they seemed to run out of steam by the 1980s. I guess they weren’t selling and yet there you were enjoying them in the 1970s. Clearly there weren’t enough “yous” in the world.

  8. February 13, 2016 8:36 pm

    This post sure brought back memories. I devoured the monthly School Friend magazines on our farm in SA in the 50s and always got the annual for Christmas.The stories in the magazines featured Fourth Formers thwarting the evil Sixth Form plotters. Plenty of midnight feasts and escapades. They were solid reads.

    • February 13, 2016 10:43 pm

      Oh I love this Kevyna, a person after my own heart. Fourth formers thwarting Sixth Formers – I guessed that was popular because by the time you were Sixth Form you probably weren’t reading School Friend anymore! As for midnight feasts – oh yes!

  9. February 13, 2016 9:20 pm

    I used to love the English annuals I got as a kid from Scottish relatives. This was the mid-1970s to early 80s and the content probably wasn’t dissimilar to your 1964 annual, though they were usually themed around a character or TV show. I remember very much loving the Rupert Bear Annual I received one Christmas; I didn’t know who Rupert Bear was but I loved his jolly outlook on life! I think these books are definitely a “nice” alternative to real life, they’re quite sweet really. In fact, they’re not too different to the children’s magazines you can get now.

    • February 13, 2016 10:46 pm

      Ah thanks Kimbofo. I haven’t seen current children’s magazines so that’s interesting to hear. I also love the sound of Rupert Bear’s jolly outlook.

      • February 13, 2016 11:29 pm

        i looked up Rupert Bear because I have an album too, on my grandchildren’s shelves now. Rupert Bear started in 1920 and still going strong!

        • February 14, 2016 11:00 am

          Wow, thanks Bill, that’s really interesting. I bet it looks very different now to how it looked back in 1920! It would make a fascinating study wouldn’t it – from many angles.

  10. February 14, 2016 5:02 am

    what a lovely trip down memory lane. sadly none of the books I got as a child at Christmas survived but then they were not nearly as packed with good stuff as yours is. I remember being excited though to unwrap the Bunty annual as a young child and then as I grew into young teens I graduated to Jackie which had all sorts of stuff about make up and boys….

    • February 14, 2016 7:38 am

      I have very few of mine, Karen, but I do have a few – AA Milne’s Now we are six, and Spyri’s Heidi are two. I feel another little post coming on …

  11. February 14, 2016 6:09 am

    I think I listened to a RN documentary about these annuals a few years ago. I can’t remember what show it was but it may have been 360 Documentaries.

    • February 14, 2016 11:01 am

      Oh, I’d love to hear that Orange Pekoe (I do love your blog name). I wonder if it is still available.

  12. February 24, 2016 7:06 pm

    I love these annuals. I hunt them down in second hand shops and read them avidly. Thank you for this!

    • February 24, 2016 7:56 pm

      Oh wow, Anita. I wouldn’t have thought of doing that. They are fascinating though. Do you see the same authors appearing. I’d like to have researched the individual authors a little, but ran out of time.

  13. Angela permalink
    February 27, 2017 1:25 pm

    I used to get books for Christmas every year, I still have them and read them every now and again, I found some in a second hand bookshop years ago and bought them.
    I enjoyed reading Lucky’s living doll and Bessie Bunter as well as some of the other stories.

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