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This story paper was a survivor. During its long-lived run from 1935 to 1963, it went through a variety of shape changes, size reductions and increases, cover designs and title changes. It began life on October 26, 1935 as THE CRYSTAL, sporting a glorious full-colour cover for the first nine issues before moving to a less than exciting red and blue cover. With the advent of war, the cover illustration dropped to less than half a page. It stayed that way until the 1950s when the total cover illustration returned, eventually being replaced by full colour once again when the paper moved to a comic format before its final demise and absorption into other publications.

The cover of the first issue seemed to indicate that the paper was not aimed at schoolgirls, rather at their older sisters. The authors who wrote under the names of Jean Vernon ('The Mad-cap Form Mistress'), Audrey Nichols ('Nurse Rosemary'), Diana Martin ('She Was a Fugitive'), Stella Knight, Pearl Fairland, Gail Western ('Tony the Speed Girl') and Peter Langley had never been sighted in other papers. It should be mentioned that 'Peter Langley's' creator, Ronald Fleming, was the first author to break with a tradition unmentioned outside of the editorial office: he wrote under a male pseudonym. All of the other writers were male, a fact never hidden but not generally realised by readers until after WW2. John Wheway, famous for his stories of Cliff House appearing in 'Schoolgirl' under FRANK RICHARDS' female pseudonym, 'Hilda Richards', likely enough penned stories under more than one the 'Crystal' pseudonyms.

With the advent of issue no.52, the page count dropped from 32 to 28 while paper size dropped to that of 'The Magnet' and most of Amalgamated Press story papers in 1938. Page count fell to 24 in April 1940, and 20 the following month due to paper shortages. Paper size soon dropped, in 1942, and by the end of the 1940s, the page count had crashed to only 12. Fortunes improved with the 1950s: page count returned to 20 and the red and blue, full-page illustrated cover returned. 'The School Friend' appeared in May, 1950, in a format similar to other AP papers like 'Film Fun', 'Radio Fun' and 'Knockout'. These papers or comic papers contained strip stories and short bits of fiction. The GIRLS' CRYSTAL followed suit in March 1953, holding that format for another decade.

'A Look at the Crystal' by Esmond Cadish, in the 1984 'Collectors Digest Annual'.
CLUBS AND MAGAZINES for 'Collectors Digest' address.

The GIRLS' CRYSTAL ANNUAL was published for many years. Copies of examples from the 1950s are still relatively easy to locate. Laminated covers were introduced in the 1960s with the result that good copies are difficult to find from the later period.

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