No, not the garden variety! Those wonderful, colourful, hardbacked books full of articles, photographs, cartoons, puzzles, competitions, facts, jokes, craft ideas and SO much fun! The books we loved to be bought at Christmas and which were eagerly awaited every year. Those mines of fun, facts and entertainment which you could carry on dipping into all year – until the next one came out. Most children had a regular weekly comic and that comic would produce an annual every winter. Even as an early teen when I and my sister were taking magazines like Jackie, they, too had annuals. Radio and TV programmes, newspapers, clubas, organisations etc etc ALL published annuals.

In the late 50s/ early 60s I, my brother and my sister took Princess, Hotspur and Bunty and the annuals were something to be looked forward to all year.

EAGLE ANNUAL: THE BEST OF THE 1950s COMIC Hardcover 2007 Features DAN DARE - L03      Roy-of-the-Rovers-The-Best-of-the-1950s-by-Frank-Pepper-9781781087176     

It was a Jackie Annual from 1980 which made me think of writing this post. I often buy, on EBay or in charity shops, an annual for a friend’s year of birth when they have reached a milestone birthday. I enjoy sourcing them – even if they wonder what on earth that gift was all about! I recently acquired the Jackie 1980 annual for a family 40th birthday – female, obviously! I enjoyed leafing through it before posting it. They’re such a glimpse into how the world was in another era.


As children we hadn’t been familiar with Rupert Bear until two older boy cousins passed ALL their old Rupert Annuals on to us – and we loved them! We enjoyed all the cartoon stories of Rupert’s adventures and knew all the characters. My sister once said it used to annoy her that Rupert was never told off when he was late home for tea – but that aside, we loved them. My sister and I can still fold table napkins into water lilies after learning how to do it from an origami page in one of the Rupert annuals.

RUPERT-1952-ANNUAL-THIS-IS-A-COPY-OF-THE-1952      Every issue has an origami design for children or their parents to fold from a square sheet of paper. The directions for this paper water lily design appeared in the 1958 edition. Bear Origami, Pictures Of Leaves, Brain Parts, The Fifth Of November, Japanese Pagoda, 1970s Childhood, Paper Crowns, Country Fair, Mermaids And Mermen

18 thoughts on “Annuals.

  1. The annuals..that are mentioned..are totally out of my experience. I look hearing more about them..and the tricks/treasures..that were found inside. ina puustinen westerholm

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  2. I used to read my sister’s annuals as she’s older than me and there were plenty of them to pass down to me. But there were some that I collected myself, and those were the Rupert ones – and, like you, I can still do the waterlily! Do you remember the one with the frogs? I wonder if that’s where Paul McCartney got the ‘frog chorus’ from! I adored the Rupert books and annuals, and once, at a solo art show when someone asked me my influences and suggested Beardley (at the time I was using pen and ink and watercolour) and I said, “Nope. Rupert annuals!” They thought I was mad, but I have always loved the artwork in those books and they triggered my imagination for years.

    I also used to get ones that a lot of people hadn’t heard of, about an elf called ‘Fudge’. 🙂

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  3. Somewhere..on this thread of information..was a name: bunty. When i hear it, it a part of a brit mystery : fathern brown mysterys..which i love. Well..the yougest female called: bunty! I have had questions..and am guessing..that some of you good people..can..bring me..up to speed. Thanks much, ina

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    • Yes, I mainly knew Bunty as the name of a comic for very young girls. My sister got it weekly. Through my life I have only ever come across a few women called Bunty. My understanding was that it’s usually given as a pet name or nickname which sometimes sticks into adulthood. One Bunty I knew back in the 1970s was in her fifties and had been called Bunty all her life. Her given name was Barbara. I doubt if there are any younger females now called Bunty. It’s probably died out. Like the comic. Interesting point to bring up, Ina!


  4. Another delightful post, Meryl! Thank you. I like your idea of the commemorative year birthday gift for friends. My sister received the “Robin” annual and I, “Princess”. As you indicated, there was so much to pore over during the year. In the mid 80’s when we still had a local bookshop chain here in my Canadian city, I also bought “Diana”, “Judy” and “Bunty”, but felt very out of touch with the 80’s glamour rock star photos, thinking back to my girlhood. A few years ago I secured all my “missing” Princess annuals through AbeBook sellers in the U.K, so now have a fairly complete set: 1962-1976. I know I did this to make up for the “lost” years after leaving the U.K. But that’s too heavy a story to get into here. I did notice that the later annuals seemed skimpier, with less contributions from readers (jokes, small anecdotes, photos, and paintings.) Other features that I missed were the craft, needlework, and recipe pages that seemed to have vanished. Did you happen to notice this also?

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    • Ah!! Princess magazine! I loved it! Yes, I think the annuals did become reduced over time. I still have my Princess Cookbook which was a Christmas present one year. Inside are numerous loose clippings of recipes I liked the look of which I painstakingly cut out of Princess and saved. I can still remember some of the regular features like the Day family cartoon and the recipes of course!


  5. When we were kids we had Girls Crystal and School Friend annuals, and we also had some old Tiger Tim, Playbox and Rainbow annuals. Seeing Eagle in this post brought back some happy memories, too. I always enjoyed Eagle more than Girl (its sister publication).

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