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Pears' Annual

Entry updated 6 September 2019. Tagged: Publication.

A Christmas annual published by A & F Pears, the firm noted for their soap and made even more famous by their advertisements using the painting Bubbles by Sir John Everett Millais. The annual appeared each year from 1891 to 1926. Most issues, except the last few, were in large tabloid format (15.75 x 11 in; 400 x 280 mm) and were heavily illustrated with a selection of Christmas features and stories. Of special interest is the Annual for 1919 which brought together a series of stories and articles forecasting what Britain would be like in 1969. It was only the second periodical, and the first in Britain, to be entirely devoted to what had yet to be called science fiction, following the June 1890 issue of Overland Monthly. It began with a projection of hope by W L George "Christmas 1969: The Kind of World on which I should like it to Dawn", followed by a series of illustrations by W Heath Robinson which included a Robot carol-singer and "submarine skating". There were two humorous articles, A A Milne with "Tommy's Christmas Report, 1969" and G K Chesterton's "England in 1919" which is part of a school history of the period bemoaning the loss of documentation in the Futurist Government of 1943. "The Secret Playmates" is a play by Dion Clayton Calthrop which shows a future populace who are entirely teetotal and vegetarian (except for some South-Sea Islanders), whilst "A Christmas House-Party in 1969" by J Twells Brex is an extract from the diary of Samuel Pepys II. Only two contributors treated the subject seriously. In "The Dark Cottage" Mary Cholmondley follows the children of a war-damaged family from 1915 to 1965, and in similar fashion in "Through the Gate of Horn" (28 June 1919 Saturday Evening Post) F Britten Austin has a man in a coma who awakes briefly at ten-year intervals up until 1972 (see Sleeper Awakes) and witnesses the strangeness of the world about him, including a Television in every home. The experiment was not repeated in later Annuals. [MA]

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