History in Pictures, March 2018

12 March 2018 History

We’ve been active since 1884, and in that time we’ve amassed some strange artifacts from the literary world. Have a peek into our history from our History In Pictures archive. Follow us on twitter to catch the latest #HistoryInPictures every week.

Thomas Hardy’s last words

The last thing the novelist and poet Thomas Hardy ever wrote is supposedly this cheque for his subscription to the Society of Authors, the day before his death in 1928. Some members take our renewal letters more seriously than others.

Secret meetings

Our Management Committee meets every two months to discuss pressing matters affecting authors and devise our strategy to deal with them – the Committee is a team of experienced authors elected by SoA members to help steer our campaigns and represent our members on a national and international level.

Confidential records must be kept of these meetings, so we have books going all the way back to the beginning of the SoA’s work, documenting drama, passion and in-depth discussions of proper accounting terms (featuring more than a few famous names).

Names and shames

Some of the things we’re finding in preparation for next year’s office move offer fascinating historical context for the work we do. Some other things are made of asbestos and remind us of the need to adapt with the times.

The Society of Authors has been known by many names, and similar, smaller organisations have been taken under our wing as we’ve grown. Now we’re the largest union in the UK for writers, illustrators and literary translators.


These stylish, dignified and not-at-all creepy Parian busts are just three of a collection we’ve accumulated over the years, mostly given to us by members. Can you identify the well-known authors?

We’ll continue sharing the things we find as we get ready to move to our new London office in 2019, which will be modern, accessible and fully-equipped to meet our needs as a growing members’ organisation in today’s publishing industry.


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