Competitions nos 59A and 59B: results

The commanding figure of Naomi Royde-Smith returns to the judge’s eyrie. She always gets her own special rules, so it’s three guineas for one entry in 59A and two guineas for one entry in 59B. (In fact she winds up dividing this into two equal prizes). She therefore costs Gerald Barry’s employers an extra guinea, and guarantees herself, if this is not being unkind, a lot more space.

59A is a testing challenge: to produce a new and original Title Page and a list of no more than ten chapters, each with a title, for a new and original novel. (the moment you see ‘Title Page’, you know that W. Hodgson Burnet has his pen ready for something a little bit artistic. And so it proves, although it is pronounced, with reason, unproducible, along with three others.) The report records (rather enthusiastically) a very soppy letter from a nameless competitor who had hoped to be offered the chance to write a Spring-song, but is running out Spring. As for the novels, perhaps unsurprisingly, almost every entry is a detective story. Since Royde-Smith reproduces all of both L.V.Upward’s entry as well as all of Jas. J. Nevin’s, it seems only fair to do the same, although the winner of the three guineas is Hilda Newman (a new name). She also commends James Hall, Sir Horace Mann, S. Barrington McClean, J.C.Skinner, P.R. Laird, Guy Innes (the closest to snatching the prize), and an entrant who sketched out the novel that Sir Walter Scott never got round to. It was about ‘Thomas The Rhymer’. See here for Scott and his subject. The unlucky and ambitious entrant was T.E.Casson …

Here are successively, the failed attempts by Upward and Nevin, and the winning piece by Hilda Newman:

WR Comp 59aa

WR Comp 59a

WR Comp 59b

I’m a little confused, I admit, by the task in 59B. Royde-Smith wants the following ‘dialogue’ reduced to an epigram in English (four lines max). It apparently relates to the Sorbonne’a abolition as a theological college in the latter part of the eighteenth century, and, by implication, previous English translations have transferred it to Oxford (rather than Cambridge, why I don’t know):

WR Comp 59bstart

Royde-Smith is fairly uncompromising about  almost everyone (‘No-one achieved a high degree of polish’), and only Halcyon gets a nod other than the two winners of a guinea each, C.D.B.E. and Dorset:

WR Comp 59c


The Sorbonne, shut down in 1792, but re-opened in 1808. Make of that what you will.


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