Choosing The Stories For Our 150th Fiction Special

150th Fiction Special

Have you seen our 150th Fiction Special?

It’s on sale now, which is very exciting. Collating the stories and poems has been a fascinating insight into 150 years of history. And not just the history of the “Friend”, but the history of the wider world, too.

How we put it together

When the Fiction Team first got together to plan the Special, it was decided that Tracey, Alan and Lucy would head up to our Archives to select suitable stories.

Fiction Ed Shirley would choose the final “mix” of stories to be included, and also write the feature which accompanies each era. Illustrations Ed Sarah would colour up the original illustrations.

Our Design Team would lay out all the pages and design the cover.

I was also on the lookout for poetry which reflected the changing times.

So for the past few months we’ve taken a taxi up to our Archives once or twice a week, and spent the morning choosing the very best “Friend” fiction from the last century and a half.

Working through each era

We decided to divide the stories into ten eras — from our very first issue in January 1869 right up to the present day.

We looked at stories from each era, aiming to include a similar mix of stories to the ones we carry today.

From the Victorians and votes for women to the First and Second World Wars; from changing times in the 1960s right up to the Millennium and beyond, all of our stories and poems reflect their times.

Our Archives Team has been on hand to support us, too. We’d let them know in advance which eras we were researching, and they’d have the volumes ready for us.

Protecting the old volumes

The Archives Team had pillows ready on the desks ahead of our visits, for the old volumes to rest on.

We used acid-free paper when bookmarking, to protect paper from damage. And gloves were on hand (pardon the pun) to protect the pages.

It was more time-consuming than we’d imagined.

The stories had to be the correct length to fit a template, meaning not every story could be considered. Early editions featured no illustrations.

And the type in our original editions was absolutely tiny, making story lengths more difficult to gauge.

Tracey’s reading glasses came in very handy for more than one member of the team!

Our 150th Fiction Special is available to order now – just click here.

Lucy Crichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 155 years of 'Friend' fiction!