Martin Armstrong, back for his third stint, asks for a four-stanza parody Scots ballad on the subject of ‘The old woman who lived in the shoe’. He has a colossal entry, almost all of it printable. He describes himself as a water-diviner who has stumbled on a thousand-gallon-a-minute Pierian Spring. The winners are new names (the first is to be quite a regular), Ciel and I-hope-to-speed. However, one of the runners-up is an interesting name: W. Hodgson Burnet. No relation to the author of The Secret Garden, who had two ts, he would be a familiar sight in these kinds of competition, since he appears in the 1904-1907 anthology of competition winners from the Saturday Westminster, with three entries (and indexed just below another keen entrant, Brooke, Rupert). Burnet was born in Edinburgh in 1873, and was articled as an architect to Thomas Edward Collcutt in 1894. In 1900 he moved to the office of William Wallace, and in 1902 to that of Sir Ernest George prior to obtaining a salaried post in H M Office of Works. He started a small private practice in 1904 while still at the Office of Works in Storey’s Gate, London. He was admitted LRIBA on 20 March 1911. He was a frequent contributor to ‘Punch’, the ‘Morning Post’, ‘Passing Show’ and ‘The Referee’, and he also had four parody collections published: ‘Quite So Stories’, ‘Gullible’s Travels’, ‘The MP’s Garden of Verses’ and ‘The Rubaiyat of Omar MP’. As we’ll see, it won’t be long before he wins.
However, here are the two who beat him to the punch:
30B – an epigram (they ARE fond of epigrams!) on Byron also brings a number of proxime acessits, including – just to prove to you that the WR circulation was not entirely southern – one Hilary Loraine Heelis, the son (despite the implication of his names) of a Westmorland priest, and a former officer in the Lancashire Fusiliers. We also have the author Francis Lawrance (sic) Bickley (1885-1976), another survivor of the First World War, one of whose short poems was much anthologised, from 1917 onwards –
We challenged Death. He threw with weighted dice.
We laughed and paid the forfeit, glad to pay –
Being recompensed beyond our sacrifice
With that nor Death nor Time can take away.
Among his publications were Kings’ Favourites , The Cavendish Family , Matthew Arnold And His Poetry , The Story Of Marie Antoinette , Where Dorset Meets Devon , John Millington Synge And The Irish Dramatic Movement , The Life Of Matthew Prior , The Adventures Of Harlequin , Letters Of Runnymede , An English Letter Book , True Dialogues Of The Dead , Lord Maida Vale , The Pre-Raphaelite Comedy |1932], The Leiths Of Harthill . And there is a Wilmot Bennett amongst the also-rans, who seems most probably to have been in the leather business (I am speculating a little too much, perhaps) and from Sutton Coldfield: