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Eastercon 1944
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Eastercon was a UK convention held April 8–9, 1944 (Easter weekend) sponsored by the Cosmos Club of Teddington, a suburb of London. Walter Gillings was the 'Convention President' and John Aiken the 'Organising Secretary'. The originally announced GoH (or dinner Guest Speaker) Professor A. M. Low was 'unable to be present under military exigencies'. While it was called 'Eastercon' and it was held at Easter it is not generally regarded as being an Eastercon in the sense of the ongoing near-annual series dating from 1948.


Pages 9 and 10 of Cosmic Cuts #5 (December 1943) were issued separately as Convention Extra #1 and distributed as a rider alongside Futurian War Digest #32, effectively acting as a first progress report for the projected convention. The convention hall was reported booked and meals arranged for an expected attendance of 'some forty or even more, delegates'. Prospective attendees were encouraged to send a convention fee, refundable in the event of non-attendance, of 15/-[1] for both days, including 'all meals and entertainment'. This may have been the first British convention to charge a membership fee[2].

Convention Extra #2 followed in February 1944, announcing Professor A. M. Low as a guest speaker and predicting 'dozens of famous British and overseas fan personalities to meet'. It also announced advertising rates for the projected souvenir book and invited attendees to lend items to 'The Convention Museum', a display of fan curios and treasures.

A two-page Eastercon Final Notice! was issued in March and in April E. Frank Parker's Lamppost #3 included a map of the area around Shirley's Cafe and effectively acted as a final progress report.


Teddington is about 12 miles south-west of central London [3]. Events on Saturday were to take place in central London. On Sunday, Shirley's Cafe on Park Road, Teddington, the regular meeting place of the Cosmos Club, was seemingly hired for the day. The convention was held in its upstairs room. In 2008 Rob Hansen confirmed that the building still exists and has become a chemists.


Rob Hansen has identified 26 attendees named in contemporary accounts:

For names marked *, John Aiken's report refer to 'the Ouseleys of the Stoke-on-Trent group' so the assumption is that Mrs Ouseley was present, as was Madeline Gillings, Walter's wife. There is however no evidence that either was a fan per se. Michiganian John Millard was in the UK serving in the Canadian airforce. Gus Willmorth from Los Angeles, also stationed in the UK, had hoped to attend but his leave was cancelled at the last minute, reportedly due to army-wide preparations for D-Day.

The convention[edit]

The Saturday afternoon session in central London involved a visit to the bookshops of Charing Cross Road, a screening of some Disney shorts at the Cameo News Theatre, and a trip to the Pillars of Hercules pub followed by dinner in the Shanghai Restaurant.

The Sunday session saw a more conventional programme. Starting at noon at Shirley's Cafe, there was a comedy quiz panel, a 'Presidential Address' by Gillings on future of fandom, an auction conducted by Parker, a film show, and a later a gathering in a nearby pub.

The advance publicity said some informal events were planned for the Monday but these did not happen based on reports.

Rob Hansen summed up his detailed history:

… the thing that most impresses about it is that it happened at all. The other wartime cons were small affairs, but the 1944 Eastercon was as full and complete a convention as any that had been seen in Britain to that point. Organising and running it under wartime conditions was a magnificent achievement. Both it and those responsible for it, the Cosmos Club, deserve to be better remembered and more celebrated than they have been.


Peter Hawkins produced a convention booklet on the day that was generally regarded as unreadable due to poor quality paper. A souvenir book Eastercon 1944 edited by Bruce Gaffron was published in November, 'badly delayed by the interference of doodle-bugs'[4].

Future conventions[edit]

Eastercon would be followed by Midventionette and Norcon II, both later in 1944, but they were on a much smaller scale. The UK would not see a convention of comparable size and scope until the Whitcon of 1948. When the list of past Eastercons was codified in 1971 the sequence was dated from Whitcon and so this Eastercon is not generally regarded as being an Eastercon.

See also Early Conventions.

Norcon early conventions Midventionette
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  1. 15 shillings. Per https://measuringworth.com/calculators/ukcompare/ this is about £39 of purchasing power in 2022, though thrice more considering average income. To give another comparison, the Futurian War Digest cost 3 pence (1/80 of a pound), while the first post-war prozine, the 1946 Fantasy was a shilling. So this seems quite a sum; even the 1949 Loncon cost only 7/6d including the buffet, half as much.
  2. There is a caveat on the Eastercon's primacy here as the Midvention a year earlier also announced a likely fee of 5 shillings but it is not clear whether in the end the money was collected.
  3. 28 minutes from Waterloo station by the (already electrified) Kingston Loop Line; Teddington was amalgamated into Greater London in 1965.
  4. The nickname for the German V-1 flying bombs that had begun to hit London from mid-June.