Anonymous or Non-attributable Contributions

         Andrew Boyle's An Index to the Annuals does not list the anonymous items in the annuals.  In contrast,
the website Index includes anonymous contributions.  This was done to have the complete contents of the
annuals in the Index in order to collate complete tables of contents for each annual.  The percentage of
anonymous items varies among the annuals.  There appear to be fewer anonymous items as the literary annuals
mature.  Overall, there are 1,970 unidentified authors, or 15 percent of the 13,200 items in the Index.  This
number is lower than it originally was because an effort has been made to identify unattributed items in the
Index.  The variation in number of anonymous contributions in the major literary annuals is shown below:

         12
The Amulet                           31 Heath's Book of Beauty
         
94 Forget-Me-Not                      94 The Keepsake
       
119 Friendship's Offering            100 The Literary Souvenir

There does not appear to be any obvious correlation between the frequency of anonymity and annual with one
exception.  In
The Keepsake of 1828, William Harrison Ainsworth explained his editorial policy that all
contributions should be intentionally made anonymous as shown below:

         This course was adopted, partly from a regard to the wishes of individuals,
         which prevented the divulgement of names in some instances, and partly from
         an inclination to risk the several articles on their own merits, unaided by the
         previous reputation of the writers.  Whether this deviation from custom will
         meet approval remains to be known; though literary idlers will probably find
         amusement in tracing the hand of particular authors in their respective
         contributions. (Ainsworth vii)

This policy evidently did not prove to be popular, because in the following year,
The Keepsake began author
attribution.  Two other means of partially concealing the author's name were the use of initials, or by attribution
to "Author of X (novel)."  Of 177 of this type of anonymous attribution in the Index, there still remain 57
unidentified "Authors of X."  The 120 "Author of X" who have been identified are cross-listed both under their
name and as "Author of X" in the Index.  Where an artist and engraver attribution is illegible or missing,
"Unidentified" was used in the Index instead of "anonymous."

Multiple Uses for the Index
One might ask what use is such an index?  The following example shows how the Index was used to determine
women poets' contributions to the British literary annuals published for adults. This example addresses the
historical dynamics of this literary period rather than evaluating the relative artistic merit of its poetic products.  
First, a computer sorting of the index was made to separate poetry from prose items, which yielded 6,770
poems appearing in 203 literary annuals (this part of the study excluded juvenile, comic, or anthology annuals to
avoid duplication and focus on adult concerns).  Next, all of the female poet contributions were tagged manually
by placing a marker in the empty right-hand column of the poetry data strings, and then they were sorted by
year and separated from the male poet data.  The anonymous poems were also tagged and sorted by year from
the gendered data.  These three sets of data were then plotted graphically to provide
Figure 1-1, which shows
how poetic contributions by gender changed over the period of annual publication from 1823 to 1861.

   From
Figure 1-1, it is apparent that male poets were the predominant contributors to the early annuals until
about 1834.  Beginning in 1823, the number of different literary annuals rapidly increased from two in 1824 to
about twenty by 1830, and subsequently dropped to eight longer-lived survivors because of a combination of
market saturation and national economic depression.  The peak in poem publication from 1825 to 1835 reflects
the way that the annuals dominated the market for poetry.  Male poets were the largest source of published
poems during that period; however, their contributions rapidly diminished.  Conversely, the fraction of poems by
women increased to about 32 percent by 1828, and reached 64 percent by 1846.  
Figure 1-2 shows a similar
pattern in prose published in the same annuals.

    A feminization of the annuals appears to have taken place by the mid 1830s.  This would not be readily
apparent from looking at an average of all years, which indicates that women numerically contributed only 31
percent of the 6,770 poems, compared to 53 percent by men, and 16 percent by poets who chose to remain
anonymous.  The peaking of the anonymous poet contributions in 1828 and 1832, seen in
Figure 1-1, was partly
caused by editors who thought that poems should rest on their merits rather than on their poets' reputations.  
This reasoning was short-lived, possibly because readers could not identify their favorites, and lesser-known
poets were trying to establish a following. By 1832, women poets became editors and gained an increasing
influence in the annuals that had an expanding female readership.  Annual binding styles became more elegant
and decorative to attract the feminine buyer.  Significant information such as in this example can be teased out
of the Index with imaginative manipulation of the stored data.  This example shows the potential of the index as
a diagnostic research tool.

    Another trend identified is a threefold decline of poetry in annuals.  For example, in
Figure 1-3 the overall
decline in the number of poetic contributions in the annuals is quite apparent.  The reasons for this decline will
be further pursued in the section on poetry.  The main point here is that sorting and analyzing data in the Index
readily yields these results.