Competitions 49A and 49B: results

In 1907, George Watts completed a statue called ‘Physical Energy’, a tribute to Cecil Rhodes (it’s based on a Rhodes memorial in South Africa). It stands in Kensington Gardens. You can read about it here, and it looks like this:

Physical Energy statue

Clennell Wilkinson asks for a valentine (the competition was set on Valentine’s Day) from ‘Physical Energy’ to Rima. He gets three kinds of poems back – charming love poems, music-hall songs, and rather rubbishy valentines … After some thought and regret he doesn’t choose the first lot, who include Seacape, but goes for D.S. Murgatroyd, and, holding his nose a bit, W. Hodgson Burnet, who has (not untypically) decorated his hand-written entry with hearts and arrows:


For 49B, he wonders what should be sent to Mars by way of greeting. In a rather vicious dismissal of the ‘habitual arrogance’ of mathematicians, he rubbishes the idea that Martians would understand our mathematical system. One of the entrants, who had then (as Wilkinson didn’t know) just won a first at Trinity College Cambridge in Mathematics, and was 23, suggested sending prime numbers. He disses and dismisses one H.M.S. Coxeter – always known as Donald Coxeter – who went on to be the most successful person on the planet in the field of geometry. You can read his Telegraph obituary here.

HMS Coxeter

Donald Coxeter in later life

In the end, he opts for a couple of witty messages from James Hall and Guy Hadley (I prefer Hadley’s but he gets the second prize; this is his second win after many close shaves and an earlier appearance as G.D.Hadley):




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