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Revision as of 21:51, 23 September 2012

As with the number 23 in Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus! novels, there appears to be a certain metaphysical or perhaps even occult dimension to the repeated occurence of this number in the works of Terry Pratchett.

This list will no doubt be added to over the coming months, but one that immediately springs to mind in the absence of the books is that in The Last Hero, this contributor recollects that precisely fifty-seven pedigree varieties of swamp dragon are illustrated in a double-page spread.

References claimed by other contibutors and elsewhere on the Wiki have been brought together as follows:-

  • In Equal Rites, when Esk is stranded in the trading settlement of Zemphis and looking for a way to get to Ankh-Morpork, she accosts a harrassed-looking trader who is counting bales of tobacco. He gets as far as "Fiftysevenfiftysevenfiftysevenwell?" before he is forced to acknowledge her presence;
  • In Wyrd Sisters, Queen Grimnir the Impaler (1514-1553, 1553-1557, 1557-1562, 1562-1567 and 1568-1573) was a vampire queen of Lancre;
  • In Moving Pictures, the Librarian believes that of all of the things that he has seen, the sight of a 50-foot tall Ginger being pursued by eight wizards on an antique wheelchair is "undoubtedly the 57th strangest";
  • In Hogfather, something is said to weigh "EQUALS 17,857 TONS"; and
  • In Snuff, Crundells' hermit, Stump, has been "following the noble art of herming here for nigh on fifty-seven years".


In its advertising campaigns and even on its product labels, the Heinz Corporation made this number its very own by proudly proclaiming "Fifty-Seven Varieties!" (Except in the universe of the Watchmen graphic novel, where observant readers noted a 58 varieties caption on the tin of beans that Rorshach consumes in the first chapter.

Fifty-seven varieties of what, exactly, are never precisely defined, (just as Cadbury's famous "glass-and-a-half of milk in every bar" is never scientifically defined according to size of the glass), but for whole generations of consumers, Heinz is synonymous with the number 57.

Among car enthusiasts, 1957 is considered a banner year for both American (last year for the two seat Ford Thunderbird, '57 Chevy, Forward-Look Chryslers) and European (last year for the Oval Window VW, first year for the Morris Minor 1000) cars.

1957 marks the beginning of the Space Race with the USSR's launch of Sputnik on 4 October, 1957.

1957 is also the last year that Aston Villa won the FA Cup. May only matter to one contributor, but matter it does.

It was in 1957 that Terry Pratchett and his family moved (briefly) from Beaconsfield to Somerset at the age of nine.