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Girl's Own Annual

Updated on May 8, 2011
Circa 1937
Circa 1937

I say, up the hockey sticks girls. Remember chums, we're all in this together!

Following the Religious Tract Society's successful publication of Boy's Own Annual in 1879, the Society decided to launch into a girls version of Boy's Own the following year. After all, girls too had characters that needed to be shaped and their young, feminine minds required appropriate material to absorb. The weeklys included a variety of stories, educational articles, adventure tales, 'morally improving' tracts, a correspondents page(answers to letters), coloured plates, poetry and music sheets.

Like the Boy's Own magazine, weekly issues would be bound together to form an annual and according to historian E. Honor Ward, "The G.O.P. was an important and positive influence on generations of girls and women, and a vital outlet for women's writing and ideas for more than three-quarters of a century". In a male-dominated society, women appreciated having something of their own to peruse and contribute to, even if it did perhaps at least partly reinforce those cultural stereo-types that had kept them in the shadows.

For a brief period in 1929 Girl's Own Paper became Girls Own Paper and Woman's Magazine, but soon after, in 1930, the Women's Magazine became an entity in its own right. In the 1940s the title of Girl's Own was changed to Girl's Own Paper and Heiress. and in 1951 it became Heiress incorporating the Girl's Own Paper.

Circa 1897/98
Circa 1897/98

What was the Religious Tract Society?

An 18th century Evangelical Revival, also known as The Great Awakening signified a revival of religious enthusiasm that swept throughout the American colonies and the British Isles and spawned a number of earnest organisations promoting clean living and Christian values through the dissemination of literature.

One of these was The Religious Tract Society founded in 1799, which became a major publisher - first of evangalical tracts and eventually moving on to books, periodicals and annuals. The Society was particularly concerned with reaching the most vulnerable members of society....women, children and the poor. In !935 the Society merged with The Christian Literature Society for India and Africa to become The United Society for Christian Literature.

St Trinians

The Girl's Own image of the stalwart, sensible British schoolgirl was disgracefully shattered in a popular series of films in the 1950s. Set in St. Trinians, a fictional private school, these voluptuous school girls were sexed up monsters who flirted, gambled and generally misbehaved.

All this was achieved under the approving eye of the suspect staff, which included a dowdy but morally flexible headmistress and her bookmaker brother. Both roles were played by British actor Alistair Sims and Sim's real life son, George Cole featured as a conniving cockney go -between.Based on the works of cartoonist Ronald Searle,the St Trinians series was produced and directed by Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat.

St Trinians..Girl's will be Girls!

The Daring Book for Girls

As a response to The Dangerous Book for Boys, which capitalised on the nostalgic appeal of the Boy's Own annuals, creators Andrew J Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz brought out the equally anachronistic The Daring Book for Girls in 2007. Such books are designed to wrench kids away from technology and out into the world of r/life experience and adventure and their success suggests that, as the publishers claim, they've "hit a public nerve".

Described as a "how-to manual for enthusiastic, unfettered adventure", the book includes such worthile titbits and activities as how to pitch a tent, get horseback riding tips, set up a lemonade stand or how to tie a hitch knot and make a labryinth. Also include are stories about heroic female role models and

The Australian edition of the book ignited a small controversy on 2008, when it included a section on how to play the didgeridoo. According to aboriginal cultural protocols, females are banned from touching or playing the instrument. The publishers responded with an apology and an intent to remove the section: "HarperCollins will replace this item when the book is reprinted as clearly we had no intention to offend." . Somehow that meek aquiescence doesn't seem very daring.


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    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 6 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Very interesting. I've never heard of these books. Actually, I'm glad I didn't. But they are a slice of history.

    • Rod Marsden profile image

      Rod Marsden 6 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

      I remember the St Trinians movies. They were crude, rude and, well, absurd but funny.

      The whole idea of bringing up girls separate from boys is absurd with a great many pitfalls. I reckon it didn't do the British in the 19th Century much good. Mind you girls seem to do better at math and science without boys around and boys seem to do better at English without girls around.

      Young 19th Century British ladies no doubt got the shock of their lives while on holidays in India, part of the empire. Some of the designs on those temples are better than the French postcards of the day and then there is the Kama Sutra to consider - definitely NOT British!

      My sisters used to mostly pick up Casper the friendly Ghost and Wendy the good witch comics. They were American. I remember my eldest sister picking up the occasional Daisy comic paper from England.

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Austin, I don't think you missed much..;) I bet Margret Thatcher read them...she'd be the right demographic.

    • Jane Bovary profile image

      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Rod, yes St Trinians were funny. I'm a big fan of Alistair Sim and George Cole.

      Maybe you should write a hub about those temples. They sound really intriguing. Or would it be too out there for Google's puritan tastes...?

    • Rod Marsden profile image

      Rod Marsden 6 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

      Probably too out there, Jane.

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