A 1 Annual
Short Fiction Titles
A 1 Annual, or “Mrs. Menzie’s paper,” as it was also referred to, was written for a young, Christian populace. In fact, it was one of a scant three periodicals deemed appropriate for young girls by Edward Salmon’s 1888 commentary on youth literature.1Edward Salmon, “Magazines,” Juvenile Literature As It Is, London: Henry J. Drane, 1888, 194-197: 197. Its influence reached wider than other youth journals of its time, but not wide enough to sustain longer than three years’ publication.2Edward Salmon, “Magazines,” Juvenile Literature As It Is, London: Henry J. Drane, 1888, 194-197: 194-195. During its short life, A 1 was read by children, youth and young adults.
In appearance, the magazine was pictorial, with full-page illustrations to accompany serial fiction. Smaller illustrations also appeared throughout, and each issue featured unique cover art intended to sneak-preview the week’s serial-fiction installment. In addition, the cover page included an elaborately typographed title, noting the editorship of “Mrs. Stephen Menzie.” Inside, text fit tightly into the pages and was generally formatted in three thin columns.
A 1’s content was selected from a wide variety of genres, and typically included fiction, biography, how-to articles about subjects such as chess and amateur photography, informational articles on science topics, music scores and poetry. A 1 interacted with its young audience through spelling and grammar contests as well as publishing correspondence between readers and editors. Each month, the head editor, Jane Menzie, even wrote a friendly, religious letter to her readers entitled, “Our Monthly Talk.”
A religious publication, A 1 featured work written by authors of various Christian faiths, including Presbyterian, Baptist, Episcopalian, and others. In keeping with its inter-faith theme, A 1 printed Bible notes, gospel lessons and social advice written by well-known religious figures such as Reverend John Thain Davidson. As a whole, the periodical was undergirded by overt didacticism and moral advice. A 1’s didacticism was often so unconcealed as to allow narrators to directly state how the message of the story was meant to be taken. Narratives were also sometimes interrupted by brief, Biblical commentaries, and titles could brazenly suggest a “moral,” as in the short story, “How Sam’s Infidelity Failed.” Though appreciated by Christian youth and parents, A 1’s “[inclination] to preach,” was criticized by reviewers such as Edward Salmon.3Edward Salmon, “Magazines,” Juvenile Literature As It Is, London: Henry J. Drane, 1888, 194-197: 197.
The short fiction contained in each issue ranged broadly in length, from multi-chaptered serials to short allegories filling only two inches in a print-column. Serial fiction installments typically shared several attributes in common, among them didacticism, characters with poor access to modern technology or medicine, and faraway, rural settings such as small-town Norway and Alaska. Well-loved titles included “Oonalaska: A Tale of a Far North Land,” “Leaves from the Log of a Gentleman Gipsy,” and “Eric Olsson’s Minde Ring.”
- A 1 (1890)
- Thain Davidson, Rev.
- Jane Menzies (head editor)
- Stephen Menzies
“A 1 Annual.” The Waterloo Directory of English Newspapers and Periodicals, 1800-1900, Series 2. Ed. John S. North. North Waterloo Academic Press, 2003. Online edition.
“Davidson, John Thain (1833–1904), minister of the Presbyterian Church of England.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Ed. C.H. Irwin. Oxford University Press, 2004. Online Edition.
Moruzi, Kristine. “Children’s Periodicals” in Routledge Handbook to Nineteenth-Century Periodicals and Newspapers, Eds. King, Andrew et al. New York: Routledge, 2016, 293-306.
Salmon, Edward. “Magazines.” Juvenile Literature as It Is, London: Henry J. Drane, 1888, 195-197.
—. “What Girls Read.” The Nineteenth Century Magazine. 1886, 515-529. Online edition.
- Alexandra Malouf
- Krista Isom
- Nicole Clawson
14 January 2017.
13 May 2023.