Competitions 69A and 69B: results

Dyneley Hussey, noting that Lytton Strachey has just published Portraits in Miniature and other essays (which you can incidentally read here), has challenged competitors to add himself to the list of subjects, i.e. Strachey on Strachey. A new (female) name appears as the winner: Mopsa. Like many entrants, she neglects to include her address. Here is her winner, which Hussey reckons the best winner he’s ever picked:


There is a curious link to the previous competition but one: Virginia Woolf used Strachey as the model for a character in The Waves; and she used Vita Sackville-West as her model for Orlando.


Lytton Strachey

However for Hussey ‘not to know’ the address of ‘Mopsa’ is either a deliberate piece of false trail-laying, or, in Hussey’s admiration for the exactness of the piece, very astute. ‘Mopsa’ is Strachey’s companion Dora Carrington, the painter (generally known as ‘Carrington’), who lived with Strachey and felt guilty later that she had made fun of him – Strachey had, although he did not know it, only five months to live (he died in January 1932, and Carrington felt bereft without him: she committed suicide eight weeks after his death). One wonders if Hussey, when Strachey died, recalled having written that, since Strachey’s central figures invariably died at the end of the piece, he was surprised only one competitor adopted the same tactic – and perhaps regretted it. (Mopsa is the name of a country girl in The Winter’s Tale, but also the name of the heroine of Jean Ingelow’s 1869 children’s novel, which you can read here.) Mopsa was also one of the principal nicknames Carrington had used of Strachey for over a decade.


Dora Carrington and Lytton Strachey

The second prize goes to N.B.:


Competition 69B asks for epigrams on Jacob Epstein, the sculptor, who was touring a piece of his called ‘Genesis’  to raise money for the preservation of ancient buildings. Epstein, a modernist, and not popular with WR readers, but arguing for a cause that might well have appealed to them, is a neat subject for the ever-popular epigram (popular then, but not with me!). James Hall takes the top prize; a new name, Athos, is the runner-up:


Here is Epstein with the piece the competitors disliked:

Epstein and Genesis


4 thoughts on “Competitions 69A and 69B: results

  1. ‘Mopsa’ was actually Virginia Woolf (the most distinguished NS competitor so far?). She wrote to Strachey saying that if the magazine knew who she was, they might withhold the prize by claiming that Strachey must have written it himself.
    Later, when Strachey was very ill, she felt guilty, worrying that the parody might have caused him distress.

  2. I sympathize with those who didn’t care for the Epstein sculpture. A somewhat over-nourished lady.

    Was this the face that lunched a thousand chips?

  3. I’ve now checked in Holroyd’s biography of Strachey, and find I have committed a howler. (misinterpreting some old notes and filling in the gaps from memory). The parody is not by Woolf but by Carrington – and she was the one who felt guilty.


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