Gostak Index

Greg Pickersgill's BSFA Archives

Here are the small beginnings of what could become a more substantial collection of documents illustrating the beginnings of the British Science Fiction Association, way back in 1958.

HERE you will find the text of the Vince Clarke article which kickstarted the formation of the BSFA in 1958. It is as if from an alternate world.

HERE is a frankly slightly incoherent piece questioning the aims and intentions of the nascent BSFA by Ken Bulmer, written soon after its inception.

And here is IN DEFENCE OF A SACRED COW, by the first Chairman, Dave Newman, a memoir of the meeting at the Kettering convention of 1958 that effectively began the BSFA.

Here you will find ANYBODY GOING UP ? an early commentary on the BSFA by Archie Mercer, the then Treasurer. Probably written in late 1958, and published in ORION 21, of February 1959.

And here is Peter Weston's really brilliant outline of the TRUE ORIGINS OF THE BSFA, a very fine piece of work which I am most pleased to host on this website. Peter's excellent fanzine PROLAPSE also includes material on the early days of the BSFA.

On the right you will see what I believe to be the first BSFA Membership list.



And here is what I believe to be the original BSFA constitution. How does it differ from that envisaged by Vince Clarke in his original proposition "Don't Just Sit There..." in his OMPAzine ZYMIC 6. December 1957, one wonders.

For the time being look here at a comprehensive outline of the origins of the BSFA by Rob Hansen, webbed by Mike Cross.





This webpage is not BSFA official activity, and is neither supported by nor acknowledged by the BSFA.

Greg Pickersgill is BSFA member number 855, and joined in early 1967. (That's a was member number 855, for after well over 40 years of membership I did not renew in 2013. Sometimes the more things change the more different they are.)

If you find this website interesting, or you know of any BSFA-related material you think should be included, or you simply want to make a comment or ask a question, please email me here. Feedback is encouraged to stave off the feeling of futile makework.

Here's some interesting figures of BSFA membership. They are taken from lists as issued by the BSFA back in the days when that sort of thing was considered both normal and desirable. The Golden Age, you know... . Anyway, they are slightly rough as being derived from a quick count of one page then times the number of pages; so almost certainly a little out of the absolute number, but not more than 10 units plus or minus I believe.

The 'highest number' referred to is the highest (and thus most recent of the moment) membership number allocated, which gives some vague idea of the throughput of members. A numerate person would be able to make something of this. I'll get hold of one in a minute.

Right then, we know the BSFA begins in 1958, everybody knows that.

The first membership list we have is one published in October of that year in VECTOR 2, and showing a total of 69 members with the highest number allocated being 69.

There is an update to this in VECTOR 3 dated Winter 1958, which brings shows the latest number allocated being number 93. Apparently no dropouts thus far, though there is what in retrospect a sad little note saying "From the previous list in VECTOR 2, delete M.1 (D J Newman) who was originally listed due to a misunderstanding."

One point worth noting here is that a block of ten numbers (80-89) were allocated to a North American representative so apparently there are actually only 83 members as of this date.

The next complete membership list appears in VECTOR 8, June 1960. Things are beginning to move a bit, as there are 97 members listed, with the highest number allocated being 174. (It's not clear what's happened to the 80-block, as none of those numbers has been used, despite some North American members appearing higher in the number sequence.)

1963, and VECTOR 19, dated May 1963. There are 149 members. The deleted number 1 had been reallocated to the incumbent President of the BSFA, Brian W Aldiss. One of the '80-block' has been used. Less cheerfully the highest membership number shown is number 375, on the surface implying that 217 persons have joined once and failed to renew. Something wrong here surely. With the BSFA in 1963, if not my arithmetic.

1964, and VECTOR 26, May 1964. We have 208 members listed, highest number allocated 455. The '80-block' shows no life still, so we must assume these are dead numbers for the moment. The implication is that 236 people have come and gone since 1958.

The story continues of course, but from 1965 onwards the Membership Lists are no longer published within the body of VECTOR. We have to hand the following;


286 members - highest number allocated 610


348 members - highest number allocated 759


254 members - highest number allocated 855 ( me!)


215 members - highest number 954


226 members - highest number 1043


294 members - highest number allocated 1192


230 members - highest number allocated 1310


419 members - highest number allocated 1584


456 members - highest number allocated 1749


652 members - highest number allocated 2051


738 members - highest number allocated 2458

It is really unclear as to what was going on with Membership Lists after 1980. The supposition is that they were prepared and published up to the early 1990s, but there are none to hand. Lists were published annually, so anecdotal evidence has it, up to 1992, but I have nothing for the period 1981-1992.

If you have any for loan or donation please let me know!

NB - the presumed membership of the BSFA at the time of writing, April 2008, is believed to be around 600 persons.

Greg Pickersgill