The pantomime annual

Published for the Sunday Chronicle, the “Pantomime Annual”, edited by Bayard was published between the wars by E.Hulton & Co, Ltd, of London and Manchester , at Withy Grove, Manchester , later to become Allied Newspapers by the mid 1920’s. The Sunday Chronicle boasted “the same week-end paper for the family, for the sportsman, for the business man and FOR YOU! It “puts the Sun into Sunday”.

In our archives we currently have all editions of the Pantomime Annual with the exception of the 1906-7 edition. We were under the impression that this was the earliest edition available, but we have recently been sent a copy of the 1905-6 edition front cover (see right)! We are still looking to add the whole annual to our collection, and also if anyone knows of any editions published after 1932 we'd be very grateful of the information.

The Annual appears to have been written both for Theatricals and audience alike-it lists nearly every panto venue and artiste for that year, along with articles, a large collection of photographs and adverts for the pantomime trade. It reflects how enormous the following for pantomimes were during this period. In addition it has become an inexhaustible reference for the subject of pantomime. If anyone should have the missing editions, we would be grateful if they would contact us on  info@its-behind-you.com

The editor chose a “Cover Girl” for each year- usually the leading Principal Boy of that time-Dorothy Ward appears as “Cover Girl” in the 1917 edition, and again in 1921 and 1929. Gwadys Stanley features in 1924 and 1927, Mona Vivian in 1930 and Clarice Mayne (1926), Susie Belmore (1923)Winifred Ward (1918) and Elsie Prince in 1920.

The Annual lists ladies and gentlemen, principal artistes, and where they would be appearing that year. The list of theatres is a glimpse at the many hundreds of provincial venues sadly no longer in existance, as well as several, like the Alhambra Bradford, the Alexandra Birmingham and the Palace, Manchester that still thrive and prosper with pantomimes today. Among those no longer in existence are to be found the Royal, Birmingham, the Olympia, Liverpool, the Kennington, London as well as the Prince’s Bradford, and His Majesties, Walsall.

It is incredible to look at Liverpool in 1918 and to see that you could enjoy three pantomimes in one season-  At the Olympia-John Tiller’s “Peace Offering” pantomime “Jack & Jill”, starring George Formby and Norah Delaney, boasting a cast of 200- the final scene entitled “The Temple of Peace” (men who have done their bit) or go to see “Cinderella” at the Hippodrome, a Wylie Tate production starring Mona Vivian and Florence Wray- chorus, ballet and children numbering 100. If you preferred a different version of “Cinderella” you could go to the Royal Court Theatre where Miss Daisy Dormer and company presented the pantomime twice daily , or perhaps treat yourself to the H.B Phillips’ Opera Company at the Shakespeare Theatre, “The Home of Grand Opera at popular prices”.

The Pantomime Annual highlights the number of touring pantomimes that existed- between December 23rd 1918 and February 17th 1919 at the Regent Theatre, Salford you could see a different pantomime every week- starting with “Robinson Crusoe”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “Humpty Dumpty”, “Cinderella” followed by “Red Riding Hood”, “Babes in The Wood”, a week of Nelly Wallace and Company concluding with “Dick Whittington, starring Edna Latonne. Seven Pantomimes in a nine week period!

Today our pantomime listings as restricted to “The Stage” newspaper, and “Encore Magazine”, published for Theatre Managements . Both of these are mainly aimed at the profession. Modesty forbids that we should claim to be the only internet based pantomime site that tries to list as many pantomimes and artistes as we can! In terms of pantomime publications these days we no longer have the Pantomime Annual, or the modern equivalent of Emile Littler’s “Pantomime Pie” magazine- comics are no longer featuring “Panto Pranks”- the most recent publication on Pantomime I can think of was the “Bumper Book Of Pantomime”, an excellent combination of history, puzzles and stories published by Cadbury, available in the pantomimes that they sponsored. Cadbury have left pantomime in favour of “ Coronation Street ”, but hopefully one day they will reproduce this excellent booklet once again.

But for now we hope you have enjoyed our nostalgic tribute to the publishing word of pantomime, and continue to visit our listings site in the performance diary for regular updates!

This page was last updated 23rd October 2009

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