Identifying the Annuals and Indexes on the Internet and CD
Rudolph Ackermann, upon publishing the first Forget-Me-Not in 1823, initiated a seasonal British publishing
fad that produced millions of illustrated literary anthologies over the following three decades. Ackermann's original
anthology combined the idea of a contemporary German literary handbook with the English almanac. The
following year, a competing annual, Friendship's Offering, appeared, and these two annuals evolved the format for
subsequent literary annuals, consisting of poems, sketches, stories, and high quality reproductions by skilled artists
and engravers. These publishing phenomena coincided with the period bridging the Romantic to the Victorian
eras, and these annuals provide a resource of over fourteen thousand literary works and five thousand engravings
from this relatively overlooked time. This Index provides increased access to these writers' and artists' works.
The British literary annuals were originally directed at middle-class families to entertain and to enhance their
expectations for sophistication. These books had titles such as: The Amulet, Heath's Book of Beauty,
Forget-Me-Not, The Keepsake, and The Literary Souvenir. Great care was given to the appearance of the annuals
to ensure that they were fitting ornamentation for library, parlor, or boudoir. The typical annual is about 5 by 8
inches in size, consists of about 300 gilt-edged pages, contains 24 to 40 separate literary items, with two to three
poems per prose selection, and includes eight to fourteen engraved illustrations. Many of the annuals contain
biographical sketches, travelogues, moral essays, short stories, and poems. The literary annuals are recognized as
being the primary publication media for poetry of the post-Romantic and early Victorian period from the 1820s
through the 1840s. The sustained popularity of the annuals over three decades provides today's literary researcher
with a measure of the changing reader consciousness of the period.
After the success of the first literary annuals, the market rapidly expanded, and over a million British annuals
were published over the next the three decades, and the fad extended to North America where about 470 different
annuals were published. Frederick Faxon's Literary Annuals and Gift Books: A Bibliography 1823-1903 lists 266
different British annual titles, constituting a combined total of 762 issues between 1822 and 1861. Fifty of the
titled annuals appear in series of four or more issues; twenty-four titles have only three issues that may or not be
in yearly series; thirty-eight have two issues, and 153 titles were single issues.
Andrew Boyle's An Index to the Annuals lists 7,512 attributed items by their contributing authors from 222
British literary annuals. Not included in Boyle's Index are anonymous listings and the contents of some anthologies,
comic, travel, and juvenile annuals containing additional works by prominent writers of the annuals. An objective
of this work is to provide a more complete and parallel index for British literary annuals comparable to Kirkham
and Fink's Indices to American Literary Annuals and Gift Books 1825-1865.
A number of universities have collections of British annuals that can be identified on the Internet in the World
Catalog. The University of South Carolina has an extensive collection of British annuals and was the basis of
characterizations for the annuals in the Index. When an annual could not be physically examined, microfiche
records were obtained. A disadvantage of the microfiche is that the engravings and the text may be of poor
quality. In assembling this index, copies of contents and lists of plates were obtained through the Interlibrary Loan
System for annuals that could not be physically examined. As a result, the contents of 59 different titles for a total
of 283 annual issues have been indexed, and this limit was dictated by current availability. See Table 1 for a
complete listing of the annuals in the current Index
Although this present collection amounts to less than forty percent of the total number of annuals listed in
Faxon, the annuals in the Index were the predominant and enduring annuals in series publication, and represent
changes in editorial influences more clearly than different single issue annuals. In addition, although many titles
and issues were not found, it is possible to characterize them implicitly by the contents from other annuals in the
same series, or by title in the case of non-serial annuals.
Grouping the annuals into topical categories also provides further definition of areas of specific interest for
analysis of the data in the Index. For the purposes of this study, the following topical categories were chosen:
literary, juvenile, anthology, comic, religious, and travel. . A reason for inclusion of all of these annual topics is
that some authors and editors contributed to many annuals, and a wide selection is needed to make the Index
reflect the full character of each author's contribution to the annual phenomenon. Grouping is also used to
differentiate analytical and statistical conclusions between series literary annuals, and other special interest annuals.
The annuals in the Index represent 80 percent of British annuals in Faxon's listing that meet the dual requirements
of literary and pictorial content as well as series publication. This high percentage of representation should
encourage confidence in the statistical results reported here proceeding from the Index.