Photos from the first science fiction convention, 1937

Just in time for the 75th anniversary, some photos of the "first" science fiction convention, in Leeds (shown here, Walter Gillings, Arthur C. Clarke, Ted Carnell, in front of Theosophical Hall). Although the site pooh-poohs the idea that the first Philcon was the first-ever con, I'm somewhat loyal to the notion, for the completely ahistorical and biased reason that I was Philcon's guest of honor this year, 75 years after its first gathering.

In January 1937, the Leeds chapter of the Science Fiction League brought something new into the world: the first ever SF convention. (A counter claim is made for an earlier visit of New York fans to meet Philadelphia fans at the home of one of their number, but this is hard to take seriously - see THE FIRST EVER CONVENTION, link below.) At a time when travelling any distance was much more difficult than it is today, several of those attending travelled hundreds of miles to be there. Held in Leeds' Theosophical Hall, at 14 Queen Square, the main order of business was setting up the Science Fiction Association, the UK's first national SF organisation.

THE FIRST CONVENTION (1937) (Thanks, Paul!)


  1. You mean the first ever UK science fiction convention? 

    Perhaps you should check out Fred Pohl’s blog (he’s now well over 90 years old and still posting at least a couple of times a week) for a true history of Science Fiction and conventions thereof. 

  2. Science fiction writers in 1937 UK, or hipsters smoking cigarettes outside a 2012 $18 cocktail Brooklyn “mixologist ‘speakeasy?'” YOU DECIDE!

  3. I have to agree with the folks in Leeds, I don’t know as meeting at someone’s house really counts as a convention. Heck, the Leeds Science Fiction League even had a souvenir report.

    Both events are fairly important moments in the history of fandom, but I think that the folks in Leeds beat us to the first “convention.”

  4. Once again my theory that every generation before the baby boomers hit was more badass than the last is proven true.  Those nerds look like they could totally beat down modern nerds.
    (I include me in that)

  5. Looking at that picture, it’s so comforting to know that, although separated by vast expanses of time, Geeks will always be Geeks. :D

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